In the latest of his fortnightly articles for the official Spurs website, director of football David Pleat gives an insight into the transfer market.
Any successful team usually has a balance of players, home grown and bought in, left sided and right sided, strong ones, skilful ones, big ones, small ones. Seeking new recruits is one of the most difficult tasks of all.
The identification of talent to bring into a club is not easy. For example, does the player play in a similar system to the one employed at your club? It is always the wise choice to select someone who is better, and has to be considerably better, than the existing player in that position. Age comes into it as well.
Having identified the player in the first stage, to get a deal done is a very complicated process. The hardest thing in the world is to make an enquiry for a player, particularly as a big club, and expect that you are going to get that player for a fair fee. Most clubs will protect their better players and not wish to do business. Some clubs may be under pressure, as indeed even some Premiership clubs are now, to sell players in order to redress their financial situation or the bank manager’s ‘knock at the door’.
If the two clubs can agree a price, which can take some considerable time, and when the price is ‘clean’ (not related to the amount of games the player plays), the next stage - having got a willing buyer and seller - is to speak to the player.
In the past this was not too difficult, the player might bring along his wife to the meeting and possibly a friend. I well remember many years ago sitting in my office with young Mark Robson from Exeter, the chairman of Exeter and the manager Colin Appleton, when our chairman Mr Scholar walked in and asked what was happening. I said we were about to sign him for £45,000 and the deal hadn’t been completed because I was arguing in the club’s favour over the sum of about £5,000.
Mr Scholar told me it was not worth arguing about and to pay it. There was a manager trying to keep tight purse strings and a chairman who completely undermined, in the nicest possible way, the manager’s authority. On another occasion you might have done a deal and the chairman will tell you that you’ve paid too much.
However, to sign a player so many things have to be right. Are his family content? Will he settle geographically? Is the club too big for him? All these things have to be thought about.
The money situation is much more difficult now. The agents have little realism when it comes to what a player is worth, in fact, who decides what a player is worth? It is a great grey area. My value of one player may be completely different to someone else’s value of that player.