Former Tottenham director of football Damien Comolli has blamed Dimitar Berbatov for the club's nightmare season.
After overseeing an outlay of £170m on players over three years at White Hart Lane, the Frenchman was sacked along with manager Juande Ramos last October with the Londoners bottom of the Barclays Premier League table.
Comolli became something of a hate figure among Spurs fans in the weeks leading up to his departure, due to the perception that he had lavished vast sums of money on players who had largely failed to justify their price tags.
Last summer's departures of star strikers Robbie Keane and Berbatov, for a total of £50m, were also a source of angst for the Tottenham faithful.
The Bulgarian quit for Manchester United on the final day of the transfer window after making his desire for a move clear.
Comolli claims the former Bayer Leverkusen player forced his way out, and insists the lack of time to find an adequate replacement was a major reason for the club's subsequent toil.
"I think the fact that Berbatov stayed so long, until the last day, made life for the coaching staff difficult," Comolli, now sporting director of St Etienne, told Sky Sports News.
"What can you do if a player tells you, 'I'll never play for you any more'? If a player has refused to play three games, like happened last summer, what can you do about it?"
He added: "I'm not looking for excuses but when I joined Spurs I didn't realise how difficult it would be to break into the top four."
Harry Redknapp was brought in from Portsmouth to replace Ramos at the helm as the position occupied previously by Comolli was scrapped.
The new boss has since been critical of the former regime's recruitment policy and claims the squad is unbalanced - although they have once again made it through to the Carling Cup final a year after winning the tournament under Ramos.
Comolli disagrees with that assessment of the squad, and claims Redknapp's repeated selection of midfielder Didier Zokora, a player he turned down during his time at Pompey, shows his judgement is not always perfect.
"Not many players in England outside the top four have got to two successive finals," he said.
"So I think, personally, the quality is there, that's what everyone is saying.
"It happens to everyone. Zokora went on trial at Portsmouth and he turned him down a few years ago, and now he's playing all the games for Spurs. It's a question of timing."Reuse content