Just before midnight on Saturday the Tottenham squad, staying at the Radisson hotel in Canary Wharf, were told to go downstairs for a meeting with Daniel Levy. The famously secretive Tottenham chairman told them briefly that he had sacked Juande Ramos, but what was to follow from Levy was to be every bit as dramatic as his late-night regime change at Spurs.
Having told the players that Harry Redknapp was to be the new manager and sent them off to bed, Levy went about scripting an unprecedented mea culpa to the Spurs fans. It was a 2,400-word explanation, posted on the club's website, of why Spurs find themselves bottom of the Premier League. In the mammoth text, Levy finally admitted that the botched planning around replacing Dimitar Berbatov and Robbie Keane was his fault.
From a man who is often perceived as aloof and unwilling to discuss the decisions he makes as the all-powerful boardroom representative of Spurs owners, Enic, there was also a rare plea for sympathy from the fans. "I know I am sometimes criticised for appearing too business-focused, too uncommunicative, or simply for not being emotional enough when it concerns our team," Levy said. "The majority of our fans know that it's simply not my way to seek a high profile. I do not crave publicity, neither do I believe it is necessary to do my job."
Given his aversion to speaking publicly, it does appear that Levy's statement was released so he could justify not having to give any interviews, apart from a quick word with Sky Sports outside White Hart Lane yesterday. The man who got a first-class degree from Cambridge University in land economy – a subject that is normally the preserve of rowers and rugby players – is an unassailable power in the Spurs boardroom and he will be praying that this appointment pays off.
The connection between Redknapp and Tottenham is long-standing. He is a close friend of Paul Kemsley, the former Spurs vice-chairman who is also one of Levy's best friends. Kemsley almost persuaded Levy to employ Redknapp before he gave the job to Ramos last year. Kemsley, a property developer and multi-millionaire, is also close to Mike Ashley, the owner of Newcastle United, and recommended to him the services of Tony Jimenez, a football agent and property developer.
Jimenez resigned as vice-president of Newcastle this month, but he has maintained his connections with Kemsley. As a Spanish speaker he was integral to brokering the deal to bring Ramos to Spurs, and it is understood that Jimenez also played a part in the deal to bring Redknapp to Portsmouth.
Levy also opened up on the behind-the-scenes events surrounding the sale of Berbatov last summer. The Spurs chairman responded to criticism that he should have cut his losses rather than holding out for a £30.75m fee. Having turned down a request from Berbatov to leave in the summer of 2007, Levy said that this summer United did not increase their bid from £20m until "the last few days of the transfer window."
Worried that Berbatov could buy out his contract cheaply under Fifa regulations, Levy nevertheless said that the decision to sell was not ultimately based on money. "The final decision on whether or not to sell Dimitar was a footballing one. It was felt that he had not been a positive influence on the pitch or in the dressing room and that this would continue.
"The ultimate failure of our dealings in this summer's transfer window was not about the departure of two good strikers, or because we have operated a structure that happens to have had a sporting director [Damien Comolli] and a head coach [Ramos], or because our financial parameters are too rigid. Quite simply, we failed because we were not as decisive or as successful in identifying or replacing the two strikers as early as we should have been."
With some justification, Levy said that he did not get the credit he deserves for keeping the club profitable every year, but he also admitted that the record profits this year will have to be put to good use. "Harry's experience of the UK and international transfer market will be of critical importance," Levy said, "and I shall be looking to Harry for clarity on our priorities." Redknapp can be clear about one thing: it will be an expensive January for Spurs and Levy.Reuse content