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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


Why Spurs Need To Pay More But Can’t and Wild Balls

Written by on August 18, 2011 | 5 Comments »
Posted in Ask the Extra

Q from Boris

One of the biggest stories on most soccer sites over the summer has been the discussion of interest shown in Luka Modric. It has been reported that Chelsea have had a couple of bids rejected and it led to the player stating he would like to leave the club to one that is more ambitious.

The Spurs are refusing to let him go because they claim they are an ambitious club but to me this sounds a bit hypocritical as they cannot possibly compete against the top clubs if they continue to have a conservative wage structure.

Do you feel that if the team  (Spurs) is to compete at the highest level, not only that they need to offer a more competitive wage to Modric but they also need to change their wage structure so they can attract better players?

Also, how would you rate Modric as a player? Do you think he belongs to the top?

Clearly, the best clubs are in awe of his talent, but I truly believe that the only reason he may not be considered among the elite just yet is due to the fact that he has never had the luxury of playing with superstar players like a Messi or Ronaldo.

While I do not wish him to leave the Spurs, I think the only way he can progress to the highest echelon would be by joining that is  loaded with superstars such as him that can take the game the next level themselves or at least the ones than score more than 4 goals a season.



Spurs have been caught in a dilemma. They made the Champions League last season and did very well. But as you point out they are not one of the highest paying teams.

The most recent figures I saw had them well behind not only United, City and Chelsea but also Arsenal and Liverpool.

They will not have Champions League revenue for this season so that is not a viable source to fund higher wage levels.

The capacity of White Hart Lane of around 40,000 also places Spurs significantly behind Arsenal and United in terms of match-day revenues

In order to level the playing field they need a bigger stadium. That is going to cost a lot of money and it has to happen at some stage. Whether it is a redeveloped White Hart Lane (a problem) or a new stadium either way it is going to be an extremely expensive proposition.

It is easy to suggest changing the wage structure (really it is not about changing but increasing) but it has to be paid for. Paying more just takes away from the present Spurs priority of expanding their revenue base.

It is easy to point to Champions League and suggest that if Spurs attracted better players then Champions League revenue would fund it but a Business Model that speculates on continued Champions League participation is a Business Model already tried by Leeds United.

Modric is a very good player but there are a lot of very good players in Europe. The attraction that he holds for Chelsea is that after playing well in England for a few years he is a known quantity and Chelsea must see a role that he can fill.

There are a lot of players who would see their game rise to another level if they played with Messi or Ronaldo each week so I don’t think that is a peculiarity to Modric.

Q from Richard N

Why is it so hard for players to hit an 8 yard wide goal from 20 yards away (or less)?

After watching the WWC games, and in particular the final, it seems to me that there is a trend in soccer games for players to miss the goal a lot, sometimes by as much as 5 yards! I see this in tournaments and certain leagues (like MLS) especially.

I am curious if anyone keeps statistics on such things as: (1) shots taken, (2) % shots on goal, (3) % shots resulting in goals. A view of a league from year to year, or a few teams from year to year, or even what specific tournaments look like should be quite revealing.


To answer your last question first – yes these statistics are kept although I can’t point you a specific website.

However, I can guarantee that the spread of statistics throughout leagues would be significant.

No surprise the better the league the better conversion rate. Simply put the better the league the fewer the chances and the greater the premium on hitting the target.

Why is so hard for players to hit the target from 20 yards?

The first thing I would suggest is to try it with a dead ball and no wall – just the keeper to beat. Then add a couple of players closing you down – a common practice drill – and suddenly any flaws in technique begin to show up.

Finally add the ball coming at different angles, at different heights and to either foot. It is not simple.

I also think that you need to consider the difference in the ball from 40 or 50 years ago to today.

Back in the days when the ball was laced up, and picked up moisture you had to put your foot through it in order to get any power and or height.

As the ball has become more technically advanced with different materials being used you no longer need to put your foot through it to get pace, power and swerve.

The emphasis is on hitting the ball cleanly with good technique.

Any error and the ball will not compensate.

It is very like golf balls. If you hit the ball with good technique it will travel further. With poor technique it will still travel further…..but it will take you deeper into trouble.

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5 responses to “Why Spurs Need To Pay More But Can’t and Wild Balls”

  1. paul says:

    While considering why players miss the target, for instance, when taking the penalty kicks, it’s worth remembering that they are trying to get the ball past a goal keeper, often a very good one. So they are not just trying to get the ball between the posts, they are aiming for a corner, and with enough power to beat the goalie.

  2. Roberto Manita says:

    Boris the Croatian,

    My advice to you is to purchase a Chelsea jersey soon. You may get a discount before he signs and the window closes 😉

    Brilliant central MF playmaker. The Croatian Xavi or Cesc. Every team in last year’s top four EPL could use him even if they don’t know it today. It seems only AVB knows it at the moment. He would improve every team in the top six. Full stop.

    Rigid wage structures seem to be a North London disease. The Spuds will find that they cannot afford Modric much longer much like Arsenal can no longer afford Nasri.

  3. Soccerlogical says:

    I heard Spurs actually want to release Modric due to his heavy addiction to freebasing horse placenta.

  4. Roberto Manita says:

    SL – You’re one of a kind. Did you get fresh air today? If not, either go for a walk or open your windows.

  5. Hugh says:

    I am pretty sure that Sir Alex stated in his match day notes that he would have given the PFA Player of the year to Modric. He would take him in a heartbeat. Also, I think for Spurs a bit of the problem right now is that they have too many veteran fringe players on decent salary. Why Spurs do have a wage structure I think Levy would be open to paying higher salaries as long as the overall money spent on salaries is about the same. Redknapp cannot resist veteran players that demand higher salaries. If Levy can get rid of Crouch, Hutton, Jenas, Palacios, Dos Santos, Bassong, and one or two others the overall wages would drop considerably. Especially considering that Keane, O’Hara and Woodgates salaries have already come off the books.We could then pay our star players a higher salary and add one or two higher salary players. It leads to a thinner squad but if a team is well run that should not be a problem.

    I am pretty sure that transfer fees have never been a problem for Spurs. They see that as an investment. It is all about wages. Harry can never have enough veteran players and that is not sustainable for a club with the revenue that Tottenham has. Especially when Harry plays the same 11 until someone is injured.

    I think that Tottenham has been operating at or near a profit over the last couple of years so they should be able to spend some money to try and get back in the top 4. If they do not in the next year or two they will have to sell and start over again.

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