After now months of speculation, the saga that has been Tottenham and Antonio Conte’s relationship appears to have finally reached a more than disappointing crux.
It’s widely reported that the Italian has managed his final game at N17 (talkSPORT), and that last Saturday’s 3-3 draw at Southampton, followed swiftly by a press conference for the ages, largely marks the end of Conte’s time in North London.
Of course, this would come as no surprise to many fans, as his departure has been on the cards for weeks, so much so that the Tottenham hierarchy apparently identified a four-man shortlist to replace Conte (The Athletic).
According to The Athletic, the names in question are Luis Enrique, Oliver Glasner, Ruben Almiron, and Luciano Spalleti – four vastly different profiles of managers.
Regardless, any of the four could indeed bring a welcomed revitalisation to Hotspur Way, but with that said, let’s take a look at what to expect if any of these men occupy the Tottenham dugout next season.
Earlier this month, the Athletic reported that Enrique is the preferred candidate to replace Conte; theoretically being available instantly being currently unemployed.
Of the four, the Spaniard certainly carries the most pedigree, having won a multitude of trophies throughout his career including a historic treble with Barcelona back in 2014/15 as he was named the world’s best coach (Transfermarkt).
Since leaving Barcelona, Enrique has been the manager of Spain, helping guide his nation to a Euro 2020 semi-final, and even being painfully close to a place in the final but losing out to eventual winners Italy via a penalty shoot-out.
However, after a disappointing 2022 World Cup which saw Spain crash out to Morroco, Enrique left the national side and has been back on the job market since.
Throughout his stint with Spain, Enrique stuck rigidly to an attacking 4-3-3 formation – a system that could suit Spurs well.
In a midfield three that sees one player as a pivot and two more advanced centrally, it’s easy to envision either Skipp or Hojbjerg in the deeper role behind both Bentancur and Bissouma.
Moreover, given his wealth of contacts within the game, Enrique would likely be well-connected within Spanish football, and could even see us land playmaker Marco Asensio, with his contract expiring at Real Madrid this summer.
The only real drawback to Enrique is that once again, this would represent the appointment of yet another “win now” manager akin to Conte or Mourinho, with many calling for more of a project-like coach like we previously enjoyed with Pochettino.
Regardless, Enrique certainly looks like one of the most attractive and viable options of anyone currently on the market, so if Levy’s plan is to get someone in permanently for the remainder of this season, Enrique is the only viable option on Spurs’ supposed shortlist.
Tottenham’s hierarchy have clearly been impressed with the calibre of our Champions League opponents this season, with Frankfurt’s Oliver Glasner being the first of two managers on this list who we faced in the group stages of this season’s competition.
Having been in charge of Frankfurt since the start of last season, the Austrian boasts a strong points-per-game record of 1.53, but more importantly helped them claim their first-ever piece of European silverware by winning the Europa League last May.
Glasner is certainly more versatile than Enrique, but in general, prefers to deploy his sides in a 3-4-2-1 formation which will sound strikingly familiar to Tottenham fans.
However, Glasner does this with more emphasis on attack, so an upside of his appointment would be a familiarity with his system but in a potentially stronger, more aggressive manner.
Moreover, if Glasner were to arrive at Spurs, he may be tempted to bring current Frankfurt star Daichi Kamada to N17 with him, as the Japanese international’s contract is set to expire at the end of the season.
Kamada is a deep-lying playmaker, and with seven goals and five assists in the Bundesliga already this season, he represents the injection of creativity Spurs currently lack in midfield.
Of the four, Glasner could potentially be classed as the wildcard option, but in truth, it could be a risk worth taking to shake things up a bit after a stale season so far.
As the second manager we’ve already faced this season, Spurs fans will be acutely aware of Amorim’s tactical nouse.
Despite being the youngest of the four at just 38, Amorim already has several honours to his name, winning the Portuguese League Cup on three occasions and having also won Liga Nos and the Portuguese Super Cup with Sporting Lisbon.
Like Glasner and Conte, Amorim also favours a three-back, however, prefers the wider variant with the 3-4-3 being his formation of choice this season.
Again, that would see him make use of a lot of Tottenham’s key assets this season, and if he were to arrive at N17 would see a reunion between himself and Pedro Porro; an exciting prospect for Spurs fans considering the relationship the duo enjoyed in Portugal.
Moreover, Amorim may have already made himself with Spurs fans, recently masterminding Sporting Lisbon’s victory over Arsenal in the Europa League which saw the Gunners surprisingly crash out of the competition.
Amorim could also potentially facilitate a homecoming for former winger Marcus Edwards, as Spurs were linked to the Englishman back in January however nothing materialised (Daily Express), but given the expected departures of Lucas Moura and Danjuma, we are likely to be on the hunt for another wide forward come the summer.
Unlike Conte or Enrique, the likes of Amorim and Glasner are largely more “project-based managers”, but an appointment such as this could be the necessary step to move Spurs forward in the long term.
Of the four names on this list, Spalletti is certainly the most ambitious when it comes to our chances of landing his services next summer, as Levy may struggle to lure the Italian aware from Naples.
Spalletti has revolutionised Napoli this season, as they sit 19 points clear at the top of Serie A and are the competition’s top scorers with 64 goals (Sky Sports).
Moreover, Napoli have a real chance at reaching a Champions League final this season for the first time in their history, as a favourable draw sees only AC Milan then one of Inter Milan or Benfica between them and a place in Istanbul later this year (UEFA).
Considering his attacking nature, Spalletti would likely be more than welcomed by Spurs fans, as his all-guns-blazing 4-3-3 could hardly be further from the mundane 3-4-2-1 currently deployed by Conte and could bring the best out of Kane, Son, Kulusevski.
If he were to arrive, Tottenham also may look to lure defender Kim-Min Jae with him, as we came close to signing the Korean back in 2018 only for him to join Fenebache as Spurs couldn’t agree on a fee with Korean club Jeonbuk Hyundai Motors.
It’s reported the defender has an apparent €45m release clause active for the first two weeks in July (Football Italia), but if Spurs were to move quickly he would certainly be a welcomed addition to our defence given his form in Italy this season.
However unfortunately, landing Spalletti off the back of a title-winning season would be an incredibly tough ask, so it’s unlikely we’ll see the Italian in the Tottenham dugout anytime soon.
Who else might Tottenham target?
Whilst that may have been Tottenham’s initial shortlist, following the unexpected sacking of Julian Naglesmann from Bayern Munich (Fabrizio Romano), Levy and co’s priorities may have just realigned with a swoop for the German in mind.
It’s now reported that Spurs are keen to land Nagelsmann and that he would be open to joining Tottenham, so if that were to be the case, what could fans expect?
Julian Nagelsmann open to #Tottenham talks – but may seek short break after #Bayern sacking (by @MelissaReddy_) https://t.co/0RA5n6go7S #thfc pic.twitter.com/hT8auA3w63
— Lyall Thomas (@SkySportsLyall) March 25, 2023
It’s no secret Spurs have been long-term admirers of the German, even trying to lure him to North London back in 2021 before he joined Bayern Munich.
Then, and still now, Nagelsmann is the epitome of a young, innovative, exciting coach, and in truth fits the criteria of Tottenham’s ideal candidate to a tee.
His season and a half in Bavaria saw Nagelsmann claim a Bundesliga title and two German Super Cups, and whilst he’s now been sacked, Bayern still remain just one point off the top of the league and in the quarter-finals of the DFB Pokal and the Champions League.
The German’s versatility could also be a useful asset to Spurs, regularly rotating between a 3-4-2-1 and 4-2-3-1 dependent on the opponent in what would be a welcome twist from Conte’s religious deployment of one formation regardless of its success.
Nagelsmann also has a tremendous track record of making world-class signings without breaking the bank, welcoming the likes of Dani Olmo, Josko Gvardiol, and Christopher Nkunku to RB Leipzig during his time at the club which aligns well with Tottenham’s transfer policy.
With the German now unemployed, Spurs must move quickly to secure his services, as it’s reported Chelsea are also eying him as a potential replacement for Graham Potter, however, if Levy could pull this one off, it could be the start of a fruitful dynasty for Tottenham.
🚨 EXCLUSIVE! 🚨 – Chelsea are monitoring the availability of Tottenham manager target Julian Nagelsmann. 🔵⚪
✍: @SportsPeteO#CFC #THFC #COYS
— Football Insider (@footyinsider247) March 25, 2023
The final name that has been strongly linked with Spurs is of course Mauricio Pochettino, as our former manager and cult hero has been out of work since the start of the season after being sacked by PSG.
Tottenham will need no reminding of the legacy Pochettino built at Spurs; transforming a frankly upper-mid-table team into Champions League regulars, and even taking us to the final for the first time in club history.
That being said, historically in football, it never seems to be as good the second time around, and the fact that several of the same faces that the Argentine coached to the Champions League final are still at N17 is hardly a sign that we’ve progressed since his departure in November 2021.
Understandably, many fans would welcome a glorious homecoming, and his attack-minded football might well help Son and Kulusevski rediscover their last-season form, but it would be hard to begrudge Levy for choosing to go a completely fresh direction.
Ultimately, looking at the candidates listed, and removing Spalleti as it’s perhaps just a tad too farfetched, Nagelsmann has to be top priority for Spurs, as his youthful, exciting approach to football is something that should be intrinsic to Tottenham but that has been painfully lacking in recent years.
Whatever happens, it’s unlikely Conte will occupy the dugout next season, and in truth whilst some are better than others, any of these appointments could in theory set Spurs on a new, exciting path to success.
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