What Now?

I just wrote a Twitter thread, but it become long and unwieldy so I’ve decided to bash out a quick blog instead; apologies if it’s a little clunky.

We spoke on The Extra Inch tonight (to be released shortly) about whether we should change Head Coach or not. We could back Antonio Conte now with three or four important signings (say, goalkeeper, centre-back, right wing-back, creative midfielder) in order to attempt to get us back into the Champions League come the end of the season. We would be doing so hoping that he would turn things around with better players and then extend his contract in the summer or, if not, that we could find a new coach that could make use of a squad built for Conte and a back three.

Or we could sack Conte now and let this be day one in building a top-to-bottom club strategy. Working out what we want to be as a club, what we have the means to be, and building in that direction so that the Head Coach is but a cog in the machine, and can leave with the philosophy and strategy remaining. Brighton are a good example of this — Graham Potter leaves and Roberto De Zerbi comes in and can make use of the same group of players and play in a similar way, progressive with some of the same principles.

So this is the choice facing Daniel Levy. My preference is for option two, and here’s why. At this point I’m feeling pretty worn down by Conte’s methodology on and off the field. I find him tactically inflexible, and overly reliant on individuals. We’ve seen Eddie Nketiah — a significantly inferior player to Gabriel Jesus — come into the Arsenal team with minimal drop-off, because they prioritise the system over the individuals within it. Whereas Spurs can’t seem to cope without Rodrigo Bentancur, or Cristian Romero, or especially Dejan Kulusevski.

He’s not developing players or implementing his system well. We’ve seen so few players improve under Conte — on the podcast Bardi suggested Bentancur, and I think that’s a good shout. But I believe more have regressed than improved. Yves Bissouma, as an example, does not seem to have been able to grasp what’s being asked of him, and is a shadow of the player he was in Brighton, where he was a progressive destroyer. Under a good coach a team should be greater than the sum of its parts. Look at Newcastle United, or Brighton & Hove Albion, or Brentford, or Fulham or those horrible lot up the road. For most of this season I believe we have been less than the sum of our parts, and that’s a major concern. Conte is one of the world’s highest paid coaches, and I think we can expect more on the pitch.

And, frankly, I’m tired of his attempts to gain leverage by positioning himself outside the club in his press conferences. He is (temporarily) a part of this club, and it would be good for him to remember that every now and again.

With Conte’s contract nearly up, his tendency not to stay at clubs long, his reliance on recruiting highly specific (and often older players), his desire to only play a back three, and our performances this season, I’m just not sure that backing him at this stage is the prudent thing to do. The doubts are stacking up. We have just enough time to bring in a new guy now and get a couple of players in to support a transition to a new playing style.

Nathan’s concern is that maybe Daniel Levy hedges his bets and does minimal squad-building now (for the reasons stated above) and instead waits and sees how Conte does for the rest of the season, before potentially changing the coach in the summer. This would risk seeing us finishing outside of the European places and having less transfer funds as a result.

A growing number within our fanbase are sick of the ownership and believe that Daniel Levy and ENIC don’t invest enough money in the playing squad. A side note on this is that, even in my Twitter mentions, I’ve seen an increase in anti-Semitic language being used about Levy — please think carefully before using the term parasite. My own personal belief has always been that, once the stadium arrived, we would begin to see significant outlay. I believe that that has begun now and I expect it to continue. But I think it’s important that we spend wisely as we do not have the unlimited funds of Manchester City or Newcastle United.

I remain unconvinced that Daniel Levy has it in him to develop and implement a whole club strategy. I would love for him to step back and delegate this, but not to Fabio Paratici, who I simply don’t trust to identify and attract Head Coaches or oversee a modern recruitment department.

Ultimately I think we’ll be ~fine either way. We are — in my opinion – set-up to be a sustainably wealthy club forever more (and Levy deserves credit for that). But it’s unbelievably frustrating, because we could be tremendously successful if we were run just a little bit smarter.

Home Grown Players (HGP) Quota – Summer 2022 Transfer Window

Each year I write about the 25-man squad and the implications of the home grown players rule and how it will impact on Spurs’ transfer strategy. The home grown player numbers could impact on how many signings Fabio Paratici can make, the nature of those signings and/or the size of our squad for the rest of the season.

The Premier League ‘Home Grown Players (HGP)’ Rule

The misconception about the requirement itself is that clubs must name eight home grown players in their squads. We could name fewer than eight HGPs, but would need to also name fewer than 25 players in our squad — for example, if we only have seven HGPs, we can name a 24-man squad, 6/23, 5/22, etc. 

Remember, an HGP is defined as one whom, irrespective of nationality or age, has been registered with any club affiliated to The Football Association or the Football Association of Wales for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons, or 36 months, before his 21st birthday (or the end of the season during which he turns 21). Source: Premier League.

As ever, we will not need to name players who are under 21 on our squad list, so could augment our squad with youngsters. This would mean that we could manage with, say, a 22-man squad with just five HGPs, but would need plenty of under 21 players who are ready to play. For the 2022/23 campaign, players considered ‘under 21’ will have been born on or after 1 January 2001. This means that for the current season we could still have a number of ‘freebies’ who are fairly well-known names, the likes of: Bryan Gil, Jamie Bowden, Harvey White, Kion Etete, Troy Parrott, Malachi Fagan-Walcott, Kallum Cesay, Pape Matar Sarr, Maksim Paskotši, Nile John, Matthew Craig, Dane Scarlett, Charlie Sayers, Alfie Devine. Some of these players will ultimately be sent out on loan, of course.

From this season, Dejan Kulusevski, Ryan Sessegnon, Oliver Skipp, Jack Clarke, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and Marcel Lavinier would need to be named on our squad list should we wish to use them as they were all born before 1 January 2001.

The Champions League ‘Home Grown Players (HGP)’ Rule

The Champions League rules are a little different to the Premier League rules — have a look at article 45 (‘Player Lists’) of the regulations. UEFA don’t just want clubs to have players trained elsewhere in the FA structure; they have additional requirements for club-trained players. They want to encourage clubs to bring through their own young players.

If we want to name a ‘full’ (25-man) squad in the Champions League, we would need at least four ‘association-trained’ players and four ‘club-trained’ players.

Club-trained players

  • Harry Kane
  • Harry Winks
  • Alfie Whiteman
  • Brandon Austin
  • Japhet Tanganga
  • Oliver Skipp

Association-trained players

  • Fraser Forster
  • Ryan Sessegnon
  • Jack Clarke (on the verge of a move to Sunderland)

Players under 21 can be included on List B so long as they have been ‘eligible to play for the club concerned for any uninterrupted period of two years since his 15th birthday by the time he is registered with UEFA, or a total of three consecutive years with a maximum of one loan period to a club from the same association for a period not longer than one year.’

List B Players who might be useful

  • Harvey White
  • Kion Etete
  • Troy Parrott
  • Malachi Fagan-Walcott
  • Kallum Cesay
  • Nile John
  • Matthew Craig
  • Dane Scarlett
  • Alfie Devine

It’s worth noting that several of the above will likely be out on loan.


We currently have 31 players who would need to be named on the Premier League squad list if we wanted to play them (the maximum allowed is 25). Many of these players are expected to leave (Tanguy Ndmbele, Giovani Lo Celso, Harry Winks, Japhet Tanganga, etc) and some are previously unused youth players (Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Marcel Lavinier) plus two goalkeepers in Brandon Austin and Alfie Whiteman (who is currently on loan), and so it’s difficult to draw too many conclusions about whether the squad list restrictions will be an issue for us at this point; but I would say probably not.

As ever, it’s a slightly more delicate situation in the UEFA competition due to the relatively low number of club and association-trained players.

Depending on how the summer transfer activity goes, we may end up having to select a slightly smaller squad than the maximum allowed for the Champions League. This is unlikely to cause a substantial issue and we have the ability to supplement the matchday squad with List B players, but we should be aware that we are putting ourselves at a competitive disadvantage through not having enough club and association-trained players in our squad. Djed Spence is an even more attractive option with this in mind, and, as per the tweet above, I’m encouraged to see us linked with players like Alex Scott. We should also be looking at several of the other players who excelled for England in the Under 19 European Championship; for example, Aston Villa’s Carney Chukwuemeka only has a contract for one more year.

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Dilan Markanday… And What It Means (Part 2)

Before you read this, you might want to read my article Dilan Markanday… And What It Means (Part 1), as well as Dilan Markanday… And What It Means (Part 1.5).

I would also recommend reading Loan Pathways: The Academy Model, by Jon Mackenzie and Josh Hobbs for Analytics FC.


  • I started researching and writing this around three months ago and so some of the details have possibly changed a little.
  • Whilst I’m confident that my spreadsheet is at least 95% accurate, there could be a handful of errors or even players missing that would lead to small changes in the subsequent analysis.
  • Spurs have tended to not disclose transfer fees. I could have used fees from Transfermarkt but that wouldn’t have filled all of the gaps.
  • It was really tricky to make judgements around which leagues are ‘better’ than others when I was trying to rank the best level a player had played at.

Here is the data. Have a look, get your head around it. I wanted to look at the circumstances leading to the player leaving, how many minutes they’d played, etc, as well as how they left. Please comment if you spot any inaccuracies or have any information to add, I’d be very grateful.

Let’s start with some top-level analysis from the 11 academy intakes between 2007/08 and 2017/18. I’m using these because the intakes beyond this do not have many interesting stories to tell yet (except, perhaps the cases Luis Binks and Dennis Cirkin, who both left early in such of first team football — successfully!).

  • From the 11 academy intakes between 2007/08 and 2017/18 we have introduced 137 players to our Academy. NB: I was going to phrase this as ‘given scholarships to 137 players’, but I don’t think that that is strictly true, since a handful joined us after the commencement of that intake and were likely via different contract types.
  • 10 of those 137 (7.3%) have gone on to play over 1,000 minutes for Spurs’ first team. These are: Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend, Steven Caulker, Tom Carroll, Harry Kane, Nabil Bentaleb, Harry Winks, Kyle Walker-Peters, Japhet Tanganga, Oliver Skipp.
  • If we include Marcus Edwards (for whom I do not believe we have received a fee yet, but likely will do in future) and both Luke Amos and Dennis Cirkin, for whom we understand the fees to be around the £1m mark, 12 players (8.8%) have been sold for £1m or more. These are: Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend, Nabil Bentaleb, Kyle Walker-Peters, Steven Caulker, Tom Carroll, Alex Pritchard, Keanan Bennetts, Luke Amos (probably), Josh Onomah, Marcus Edwards (highly likely), and Dennis Cirkin (probably). Dilan Markanday’s fee may possibly rise to over £1m in the future. There is a small caveat here that there may be one or two others, but it’s unlikely.
  • 4 players players (2.9%) have been sold for £10m or more. These are: Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend, Nabil Bentaleb and Kyle Walker-Peters. There is a possibility that Marcus Edwards’ 50% sell-on arrangement could result in a future fee of £10m or more. There is also a small possibility that Dilan Markanday’s sell-on arrangement could also result in a future fee that takes his total transfer fee to £10m or more.
  • 19 players (13.9%) have played significant minutes in the Premier League, Serie A or Bundesliga. I used my judgement here – i.e. Filip Lesniak (4 minutes) was excluded but Kevin Stewart (580 minutes) was included. Luis Binks (Serie A) would be a 20th player to include here if we were take into account the full range of intakes — he was in the 2018/19 intake.
  • A further three players have played significant minutes in the Eredivisie: Ismail Azzaoui, Tomislav Gomelt and Marcus Edwards.
  • 13 players (9.5%) have played significant minutes in the Championship; six of those were released and only Amos (possibly) and Markanday (possibly in the future) achieved a fee of £1m. None of them played more than 50 minutes for us.
  • 17 players (12.4%) have played significant minutes in League One (of these; nine of those were released. Only Dean Parrett played more than 100 minutes for us).
  • Ten (7.3%) players have played significant minutes in League Two (of these, nine were released, and one is still contracted to us (Jamie Bowden), and only Jake Nicholson and Cameron Lancaster (14 and 12 minutes respectively) played for us.
  • Four players played in the Scottish Premiership — two released, two sold for nominal fees.
  • Two players played in the Scottish Championship — one after being released, and Nathan Oduwa was there on loan and was eventually sold to Olimpija Ljubljana for a small fee.
  • There are then players who have played at other decent levels across Europe and beyond, and at least 10 who have played in the National League and below.
  • So that means 72 (52.6%) of our academy players have gone on to play in a top five league, the Eredivisie, the Championship, League One, League Two or the Scottish Premiership.
  • There are 21 (15.3%) full internationals, including six full England internationals.
  • NB: Omari Forson and Noni Madueke both left before joining the Academy as scholars.

Now for some comment.

53% of our academy players having played at those level feels quite low. I have nothing to compare to at other clubs, and I’m sorry to say that I don’t intend on doing this for other clubs — it was difficult enough for the club I’m actually interested in! If anyone knows of any similar analysis for other clubs, please do paste links in the comments. But yes, 53% feels low, though I think it’s improving significantly when considering hit rates of the more recent intakes.

I believe — and this is something I went big on in my initial article — that we have been poor at maximising profit on players we have let go. There are numerous examples of players who have gone on to be worth a lot more than we let them go for. Some examples are: Adam Smith (undisclosed fee, understood to have been small), Ryan Fredericks (undisclosed fee, understood to have been small), William Troost-Ekong (released), Kevin Stewart (released), Milos Veljkovic (£400k), Paul-José Mpoku (undisclosed fee, understood to have been around £350k), Nathan Byrne (released), Jordan Archer (released), Lee Angol (released), Kane Vincent-Young (released), Joe Pritchard (released). We could argue over whether we might have expected to achieve a higher fee for even those sold for the highest price — Kyle Walker-Peters (£12m) springs to mind, a player sold at a fairly low point, who is now worth double what we sold him for.

At the time of their transfers, it might have seemed as though they were worth little, or perhaps their contracts were nearly up, or perhaps they needed a fresh start and the club did not want to retain them against their wishes. My view is that careful management of your best academy prospects should mean that clubs are able to initiate strategic loans that help create value, and offer enough first team opportunities (be they training opportunities, bench places, or actual minutes) that we a) create value and b) keep the players interested enough to renew their contracts. And when I say ‘best academy prospects’, looking at the data we are not talking about high numbers, so this should be manageable.

We should be aiming for a situation where no players complete their scholarship and go on to either leave the game entirely or end up in non-league. That should be a rarity. Unfortunately, we are not there yet. I do, however, believe that a large proportion of those we release for free hold significant value and, with the right loan planning, could have been players we sold, possibly for a future sell-on percentage. This is something we have thought about and, arguably, improved upon in recent years — I think the sales of Sam Shashoua, TJ Eyoma, Jubril Okedina and Armando Shashoua (following loans) speak to this. But we need to do more of it. Why could we not have done this with George Marsh, rather than ending up releasing him? Same question for Jack Roles, Jaden Brown (who was transferred but, as I understand, for a nominal or no fee), Nick Tsaroulla; these were good players who we should have profited from.

We have to think: what is the purpose of our Academy? We invested heavily in the training ground and, of course, that wasn’t solely for the Academy, but it was certainly a part of the motivation. The narrative used to go that if you managed to rake in a combined million quid for your youth players every year, it would pay the running costs — I’d love to know if that’s still true. So what is the purpose? Is it to try to produce a couple of players a year for the first team squad? Is it to generate revenue? Is it to occasionally luck out with a Kane (or even a Skipp or a Winks or a Tanganga)? Or is it all of the above? In all cases, I think we can do quite a bit better.

I’ve got some more thoughts which I’ll likely follow-up with in a few weeks, but for now I wanted to share this piece of research, get any corrections or additional information from readers, as well as your comments on how you think we’re doing.


When we talk about ‘transition seasons’ at football clubs we generally mean that the club has moved from a previous poor performance, generally involving a parting of ways with the coach, to being on the road to better times. This has been a transition season for Spurs but, rather than being on the road to better times, we’ve reached the better times already.

Such is the quality of Antonio Conte, he has allowed our ‘transition season’ to essentially be a transition half-season. Even during the transition he got us winning.

But it’s the transition off the pitch that, for me, has been more important. I have made no secret of the fact that being a Spurs fan has been very difficult for me during the last couple of years. I felt completely disenfranchised and devoid of hope when he was our manager. I could not see any semblance of a workable system and there was nothing to dream on.

Nuno Espírito Santo wasn’t him (good) but he also wasn’t really anything (bad), and it always seemed like such a terrible fit. Fortunately it was a fleeting visit. Antonio Conte’s appointment felt massive because of his coaching ability and his record, but I did worry a little about how I’d find his deliberately abrasive and confrontational approach. It’s amazing how quickly I’ve adjusted to it.

I doubt that he’s ever going to occupy the same space that Mauricio Pochettino does for me — partly because the chances are that we’ll be a quick stop-off on his journey to a Galáctico, that’s how brilliant he is — and partly because I don’t believe that he is quite as invested in the club. Fair enough. But seeing him waving his arms on the touchline to urge support, seeing the way he has us playing, seeing the way that he has made use of some of the previously under-performing talent at his disposal… this is what it’s all about.

We go on and on as fans about what’s better: winning a cup or a top four finish. The truth, at least for me, is that unity is more important than either. If I feel bought into something, if I feel that we’re moving in the right direction, I can forgive almost anything. And I’ve got that back in spades. What is it they constantly say up the road? Trust the process. Except whereas they put blind faith in their long-winded and wasteful process, we have found a slick and efficient one.

So whatever happens today — and hopefully it’s the absolute obliteration of Norwich City Football Club as an entity (no offence, Canaries, I just want us to end on a high) — I want to thank Antonio Conte for bringing the spark back into my relationship with Spurs. I didn’t need handcuffs, role-playing, light spanking, a third party. I just needed direction.

COYS. I love you.

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Dilan Markanday… And What It Means (Part 1.5)

At the end of my article Dilan Markanday… And What It Means (Part 1), I wrote:

This is part one of a two part look at where Spurs are going wrong. I’m quite excited about the piece of analysis that I will be doing for part two, so be sure to look back in a week or so to catch that.

This is part 1.5. Because what I wanted to achieve was a bit more difficult than I thought and I need your help!

I’ve been working on a little project, looking at all of our youth players going back to the 2007/08 intake which was when I started really getting interested in our youth development (that was the youth intake with Mason and Townsend in). Part 2 is going to be some analysis on what I’ve found; I’ve already started thinking about how this will look.

But I am sharing some of the data here, firstly to give you a first glance, and secondly to see if anyone can help fill in outstanding gaps. This leaves this open to people jumping in and using my data to do their own analysis before I’ve even got out of the starting blocks, but so be it.

The reason I’m asking for help is that I know a lot of Spurs fans have old Spurs handbooks, which tended to record the academy intakes in full. So here’s what I’d love: if you have any Spurs handbooks, would you mind checking my lists of academy players from the year in question against what’s in the handbook for that year, and letting me know if I’ve missed any players?

If anyone has the intake years/dates of birth for these two players I’d be really grateful as I’ve not been able to find any information on them:

  • Samuel Smith (2011/12 intake I think)
  • James Dalton (2007/8 intake I think)

The spreadsheet is here. All data used was available in the public domain.

Please leave me a comment or drop me a note at windy at windycoys dot come if you can add any information! I’d be super-grateful!