Five candidates for next Spurs manager after Slot confirms Feyenoord stay
It’s beginning to feel a lot like 2021 for Tottenham Hotspur.
It took Spurs 72 days to appoint Jose Mourinho‘s successor two years ago, by which point the chosen one – or more accurately the only one left – Nuno Espirito Santo‘s credibility had been completely shredded.
Fast forward to 2023 and it has now been 60 days since Antonio Conte’s fiery departure, and Spurs still appear to be no closer to appointing a replacement.
Ex-Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann was reportedly the front-runner before Spurs ruled him out of the race, while Feyenoord’s Arne Slot has confirmed that he will now remain with the Eredivisie champions after seemingly emerging as the north London club’s first-choice candidate.
“I have been hearing a lot of rumours going around about other interest in me. Although I am thankful, my wish is to stay at Feyenoord and continue working on what we created last year,” the 44-year-old said.
All the while, Daniel Levy has chosen not to pursue a reunion with Mauricio Pochettino and the Argentine is set to join Spurs’ fierce rivals Chelsea.
So, where do Spurs turn next? Here are five leading contenders according to the bookmakers.
Ange Postecoglou was generally seen as an underwhelming appointment by Celtic two years ago, mainly on account of his lack of European pedigree. Prior to Celtic, Postecoglou had only managed in Australia, where he grew up, Japan, and for a brief spell in Greece, the country of his birth.
Postecoglou has emphatically changed perceptions during his two seasons in charge, however, wresting the Scottish Premiership title back from Rangers and re-establishing Celtic as the dominant force in Scottish football, while implementing an exciting and progressive style of play.
His track record in the transfer market is also impressive, with Postecoglou using his knowledge of Japanese football to acquire Kyogo Furuhashi and Reo Hatate, both of whom have been exceptional.
The 57-year-old hasn’t quite replicated domestic success in Europe, although Celtic played well in periods against Real Madrid in this season’s Champions League group stage.
Tottenham fans may be similarly to sniffy to Postecoglou as Celtic fans were if he takes charge, but he might just prove them wrong too if given the chance.
Had Spurs been linked with Brendan Rodgers two summers ago after he had led Leicester City to the club’s first-ever FA Cup final victory while narrowly missing out on a place in the top four, the reaction from supporters probably would have been more positive.
Now though, the fanbase appears to be almost unanimously underwhelmed by the prospect of the 50-year-old joining, given how his spell with the Foxes fizzled out.
Rodgers was sacked in April after Leicester dropped into the bottom three and they are currently two points adrift of safety with only one game remaining.
Rodgers may contest that a lack of investment in the transfer market was the driving factor behind Leicester’s dramatic decline and that until funds dried up, he had enjoyed huge success. He also won numerous trophies at Celtic and almost steered Liverpool to the Premier League title in 2014.
Rodgers has generally performed well over a prolonged period of time for a variety of clubs, but is difficult to escape the feeling that like Nuno, he would be undermined from the start given supporters’ perceptions of his qualities.
Since moving into their world-leading stadium in 2019, Spurs have sought to prove that they belong at Europe’s top table by appointing “serial winner” coaches in Mourinho and Conte.
Although they each enjoyed periods of short-term success – Spurs were top of the Premier League in November under Mourinho and qualified for the Champions League under Conte – both of their tenures ended disappointingly. Their intentions appeared to be to stay for a good time, rather than a long time.
It is surprising then, that one of the leading candidates this time is another big name Luis Enrique. The 53-year-old won the treble with Barcelona in 2015 and led Spain to the Euro 2020 semi-final, before overseeing an underwhelming last-16 exit against Morocco in the World Cup last year.
Enrique boasts an impressive CV and his playing style is a better match for Tottenham’s “DNA” than Mourinho’s or Conte’s styles were, albeit still imperfect given the emphasis on patient, rather than progressive, passing.
But it would seem a risky choice given the club’s recent history with high-profile coaches. Spurs need a cultural reset and a long-term approach. Would Enrique really be in it for the long haul?
Similarly to Rodgers, Graham Potter’s reputation has taken a sledgehammer to it this season following a disastrous stint in charge of Chelsea.
To make matters worse his replacement at Brighton Robert De Zerbi has earned widespread acclaim after guiding the Seagulls into Europe for the first time in the club’s history.
Potter won only 12 of his 31 matches in charge of Chelsea and at times, looked uncomfortable under the glare of the media spotlight that is inevitably amplified at a bigger club. And having struggled under a chaotic ownership group at Chelsea, would he fare much better at Spurs given their current issues behind the scenes?
His time at Chelsea may prevent Potter from getting another “Big Six” job anytime soon, although he is creeping up the bookmakers’ lists with Nagelsmann and Slot now seemingly out of the picture.
Similarly to Enrique, Potter likes to instill a measured, possession-based style of play. Critics may point to his team’s lack of cutting edge as proof that his methods, while easy on the eye, are not especially ruthless.
Could it be a case of fourth time lucky for Spurs and Portuguese managers? None of Andre Villas-Boas, Mourinho or Nuno succeeded in north London, but that hasn’t stopped Sporting Lisbon’s highly-rated young coach Ruben Amorim from being mentioned in connection to the job.
Amorim’s Sporting took four points off Spurs during this season’s Champions League group stage, impressing with their attacking intent and fearlessness in both matches. Spurs bought wing-back Pedro Porro from Sporting off the back of his performances against them, while ex-academy graduate Marcus Edwards also caught the eye.
Despite being only 38, Amorim has already squeezed plenty into his coaching career. He has won three domestic cups over the past five seasons (one with Sporting Braga and two with Sporting Lisbon) and led his current club to their first league title in 19 years back in 2021.
This season has been less successful, although Amorim’s task was made more tricky by the sales of Matheus Nunes and Joao Palhinha to Wolves and Fulham respectively last summer, followed by Porro’s departure in January.
One potential drawback is his favoured 3-4-3 system, a formation has become a source of frustration for Spurs fans this season.