October 22, 2008

The exception proves the rule

Tottenham's loss to Stoke this weekend made a fantastic argument against instituting a salary cap in European soccer. For the past three years Spurs have brought in big names in order to topple the hegemony of the Big Four, but they currently sit at the bottom of the table, the only team yet to win a game this season. If this unlikely scenario holds, Tottenham will undoubtedly fire their coach and sell off the highest-paid players. Is this not the exact kind of situation the promotion/relegation system was designed to create?

Not to belabor the point, but let's review the tasks of the key members of a club. It is the job of the ownership to provide the funding and overall direction for the club. It is the job of the manager to effectively discover and motivate talented players. It is the job of the players to execute the plans of the manager. The clubs who succeed at all three are rewarded with trophies while the ones who fail are relegated to lower divisions. Currently Tottenham is failing at all three areas and deserve to fall out of the Premier League if they cannot produce more positive results.

Such an obvious example of incompetence would not be as clear with a salary cap in place. The mismanagement by Juande Ramos could be obscured with the excuse that he does not have the players he needs to execute his gameplan. No such excuse exists when the manager is allowed to bring in players with the talent of Luka Modric, David Bentley and Roman Pavyluchenko.

The spots at the top might be dominated by the highest spenders, but spending alone does not secure a trophy. Good management is vital, and Tottenham have proven that with the abundant lack they possess.

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