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22 September 2021updated 23 Sep 2021 10:29am

After 72 managerless days, Spurs were desperate. Then, my phone rang…

“Hi Hunt, how you doing?” Dan Levy said. “How would you like to manage Spurs?”

By Hunter Davies

So, that worked out well. Sort of. A couple of months ago, Daniel Levy was on the blower. “Hi Hunt, how you doing? How would you like to manage Spurs?”

I wasn’t surprised. After giving José the push, Daniel had been looking everywhere, all over Europe, South America, Iceland, the Isle of Skye, South Mimms, contacting any person likely to be a half-decent manager. They all said nah, I’ve got the dog to walk, my missus won’t move, my garden to sort, where is Tottingham anyway? He was really stuck. Seventy-two days without a manager. I felt sorry for him, so I said “OK Dan, I’ll have a think, will get back to you.”

Obviously, I was ideally qualified, compared with some of the riff-raff, old lags and losers he had already contacted – several of whom were also deceased. Have I not been a loyal Spurs fan for 60 years? I can remember the double-winning days of 1960-61 as if they were last week. Actually, I imagine that everything in my life happened last week. My Spurs memorabilia? Second to none. And, of course, I did play football in the Banbury and District league for the village of Wardington in the 1970s and for Dartmouth Park United on Hampstead Heath in the 1980s till I was 50. Go on, look up the stats.

Problem is, I have a young girlfriend, aged 73, and she does need attention and sweeties, not to mention Prosecco, and we have just acquired a holiday home in the Isle of Wight. The ferries are hellish, how would I get back for match days?

I said to Dan, “Right then, I will try to help, as you are the longest-serving chairman in the Prem, and the best educated, probably the best paid.” I have always ignored those shallow Spurs supporters who say Levy is a ruthless tightwad whose only skill is doing deals. They don’t know him like what I do: a diamond geezer.

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[see also: Crazy money, strange similes and stranger haircuts. The Premier League is back, and so are the fans]

I said, “What about Zoom?” I find it a bit hard to understand at my age, but I am sure from Ryde, if my connection works, I can easily take training by video. Team talks in the dressing room? No probs. Sitting on the bench? No need for that anyway. The players can’t hear a bleeding word. A manager on the bench is just there to give the cameras something to focus on, or in the case of José, to show us his best profile.

I was saved in the end. A Portuguese manager in the Midlands was out of work, hanging around at home: his name sounds like the kind of health drink that young players scoff. He had put himself forward, but Dan was unsure, and then was going to go to Everton, but that fell through, for reasons I know, but on which I am sworn to secrecy. I said, “Go for it, Dan. I like the cut of his jib and his beard. Sensible, calm, thoughtful – not many managers like that.” Dan pounced.

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Nuno Espírito Santo immediately worked wonders. Who would have expected that? Spurs going top of the league, wow, after three games. He has even kept Harry Kane for another season.

Personally, if I had taken the job – and I was tempted – I would have let Harry go. For his own good. He will never win ‘owt at Spurs. Or kept him and put him on a diet. Last season, and at the Euros, he played as if he had the world on his shoulders and a stone extra on his tummy. Letting him leave might have been a mistake, of course. Harry is Spurs, as Guardiola rightly observed.

As for the team, I would have put Dan Levy in goal. He would scowl at the opposition like a fiendishly clever schoolteacher who can always see through you. That would put them off and they would shoot wide.

I would also try to find someone like the late, great Jimmy Greaves: what a poacher. There is too much running in football these days, just for the sake of it. Long throw-ins are back. Time to return to goal-hanging.

Spurs have now reverted to being Spursy. Like Everton, they have this fantasy that they are a top club, one of the golden six, which is bollocks. They are two of nature’s middlers, bound to end up middling.

But fair dos, Nuno made a goodish start. And I like to think I played my part.

[see also: How I mastered the mental game of tennis]

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This article appears in the 22 Sep 2021 issue of the New Statesman, Great Power Play