Danny Rose's comments unsettle Tottenham at the worst possible time
As the final weekend of preseason began, Tottenham Hotspur fans would have been confident of another top four finish. Yes, they had lost Kyle Walker to Manchester City, but of all of Spurs' stars, he was the one you would consider most easily replaceable, not least because Kieran Trippier had already replaced him towards the end of last season.
In spite of their lack of incoming signings, the club had kept Harry Kane, they had kept Dele Alli, and they had kept Eric Dier. But then the hitherto quiet and unassuming Danny Rose dropped a bombshell, saying that he would consider quitting to move up north. And it has unsettled the club at the worst possible time.
Just over six months ago, Kane told reporters: "It would be stupid to leave [Spurs] now. We've got one of the best coaches in the world, maybe the best. We'll have a new stadium soon. The future is bright."
There will certainly be some interesting conversations in training now. With the temporary move to the wider expanses of Wembley, where Spurs only won once in five attempts last season, manager Mauricio Pochettino was already going to have to tweak his intense pressing game. Rose, with his ability to quickly and cleverly cover so much of the left flank, would have been crucial to that.
Rose's unilateral decision to speak to The Sun made for excellent copy, but will infuriate his club. His concerns about trophies and transfer policy drew sympathy from many Spurs supporters unsettled by the total lack of summer signings, but the timing is far from helpful. Indeed, many fans will wonder now if he had been urged to take this course of action by a manager in search of a left-back.
But Rose does at least make some fair points. He is 27 now and cannot be blamed for wanting to win something before his physical attributes begin to wane. And as unappealing as it is to say so, he can't be blamed for wanting to maximise his earning potential either.
Tottenham's long term strategy is to complete their new stadium, attract even more revenue, grow steadily and then compete with the biggest clubs in Europe. Rose was only likely to be around for the first bit of that.
Every other club in contention for a top four finish has made at least one high profile signing this summer and it's an oft-repeated maxim that to stand still in the Premier League is to go backwards. But Rose's desire for signings that you don't "have to Google" is an odd criticism to make.
Rose himself was plucked from the reserves of then-third flight Leeds United, club vice-captain Harry Kane was a youth product and star player Dele Alli came from MK Dons. The debuts of all three, and several others in the squad, would have brought significant Googling too. It doesn't seem to have harmed Tottenham too much so far.
And while Rose's stated desire to see more of his mother is endearing, given that he's just had six months out with injury, you do wonder what's been keeping him from her. Leeds is only a three hour drive from London, or just over two hours on the train. He could comfortably make it back for tea time after training, stay the night and then get back down on the M1 in the morning for work. Is this a genuine problem, or is this just a startlingly high profile attempt to get his mum off his case?
Regardless of his motives, this unexpected problem is difficult to rectify for Spurs. At least Walker could be replaced by Trippier, his apparent two week injury notwithstanding. Ben Davies is a willing worker on the left, but he's not in the class of Rose. Pochettino declared recently that young full-back Kyle Walker-Peters, who played on the left against Roma in preseason, wasn't ready for the Premier League. He may have to be now.
It is entirely possible that this interview will compel the club to act, either by awarding Rose the pay rise that he says isn't really behind his discontent, or by spending that £45 million Walker windfall.
Chairman Daniel Levy, one of the league's most accomplished deal makers, must be getting withdrawal symptoms by now. But as Manchester City will testify after spending £52m on Benjamin Mendy and £26.5m on Danilo, finding quality full-backs at affordable prices is harder than it looks.
Whether Rose was justified or not in his outburst, one thing is clear: this is a problem that Spurs really could have done without.
Iain Macintosh covers the Premier League and Champions League for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @IainMacintosh.