For those of you still filling in your Tottenham managerial bingo cards we’ve had fan revolt over questionable past comments from the latest candidate, after the collapse in negotiations due to Italian tax regulations and a blocked move for a fan favorite in the last few weeks. I know it’s a struggle but do please try to keep up, we haven’t got all summer.
It was a different world back when Jose Mourinho was given the heave ho from Tottenham nine weeks ago on Monday. The European Super League was the end of the sport as we knew it. Pep Guardiola was a managerial mastermind who had finally stopped overcomplicating big games. Stephen A Smith didn’t even do Euros analysis.
Yet, as the football world has moved around them Tottenham have fixed themselves resolutely in the mud. Seven suitors have come and seven have gone, from the long lost love that they just keep running into at the wrong time in life to the bad boy with a rap sheet long enough that it would not be wise to bring him home and introduce him to mum, dad and the 60,000 of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
Whether it was indeed that online backlash from Tottenham fans that ultimately convinced Daniel Levy and Fabio Paratici that Gennaro Gattuso was not the one for them remains unclear.
Talks between Tottenham and former Fiorentina manager Gennaro Gattuso have collapsed
Certainly a fanbase that prides itself on its diversity and inclusivity was entitled to raise questions about a prospective manager who has questioned the role of women in football, the decision of Kevin Prince Boateng to walk off a pitch when he has been racially abused and who has described same sex marriage as “very strange”. One might suggest that they alone are immediate disqualifying factors when Levy has spoken of a desire to appoint “someone whose values reflect those of our great club”.
That statement that Levy made in his program notes ahead of the final home game of the season – for which supporters were charged £60 to be placed in the top tier of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and told to vacate the premises without the players even performing a lap of honor – looms large over every candidate Spurs consider this summer.
Tottenham had “lost sight of some key priorities and what’s truly in our DNA”, Levy admitted. Jose Mourinho’s successor would have to “return to playing football with the style for which we are known – free-flowing, attacking and entertaining – whilst continuing to embrace our desire to see young players flourish from our academy alongside experienced talent.”
In isolation you could make a case for almost any of the prospective managers as being the right man at this moment. Certainly an ambitious swing at Hansi Flick before he took the Germany job was worth trying. The same could be said of Erik ten Hag even after he signed a new contract at Ajax, his name may yet come back into contention again, and Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers.
If Mauricio Pochettino is the benchmark against which all other managers will be measured you may as well see if you can bring him back. Antonio Conte may not be a guaranteed fit with your philosophy but is he as near to a guaranteed trophy winner as is on the market.
Then if you have appointed a new managing director of football in Fabio Paratici — one who has not necessarily built a Juventus side that reflects the ideals you aspire for in your club — perhaps you may as well ensure he is working with the head coach he wants the most even if that means leaving Paulo Fonseca stunned when you pull the plug on that deal to appoint Gattuso. Even if Gattuso himself had just hours earlier parted ways with Fiorentina due to the potential influence of his agent Jorge Mendes. Did we mention that, aside from the deeply questionable comments he has made in the past, his place in Tottenham history had previously been assured thanks to the time he grasped then Spurs assistant manager Joe Jordan by the throat?
There remain managers worthy of consideration out there but it is hard to see how Paratici and Levy might offer a convincing pitch to someone such as Graham Potter. Certainly he will not need reminding that he is nobody’s first, second or third (or fourth fifth or sixth) choice for the job even if the Brighton boss sets his youthful side up in the high-pressing, pacey and aggressive fashion that seems to tick every one of Levy’s public criteria even if he has not won trophies outside of Sweden.
Unlike when Fonseca’s move fell apart there has been no immediate indication as to who the next frontrunner is. Many of the names on the initial shortlist have been explored without success. The net may need to be cast wider.
It does not feel entirely beyond the realms of possibility that Harry Kane might return to Hotspur Way after the Euros in the style of John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, wondering what ever happened to the coaching staff. A change of heart from the England captain over his future looks more unlikely with every failed appointment and being the man who has to usher Tottenham into a post-Kane future does not look all that appealing.
Seven managers have already passed Tottenham by. It would be a bold indeed to suggest that there will be no further setbacks.