Transition Hotspur

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Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
Dom Le Roy

And so for the ninth time in thirteen years a Tottenham manager was shown the door  when Daniel Levy relieved Tim Sherwood of his first team duties. The announcement came as little surprise to many. Then again, why would it? Sherwood is just the latest in a long line of bosses to pass along the White Hart Lane managerial conveyor belt, only to fall off and be classified as faulty goods.

“My record here is second to none” pleaded Tim, in vain. He wasn’t wrong. 22 league matches, 13 wins, 3 draws and 6 losses. A Premier League win percentage of 59.1%, better than any manager in Tottenham’s history. It couldn’t have been Tim’s record that lost him his job. Of course, we all know that. His candid approach coupled with several questionable outbursts in the media didn’t help his cause. But is it anything we haven’t witnessed before? Mourinho does it almost every week, Ferguson similarly when he was in charge at Old Trafford.

What is in the past cannot be altered. There’s no going back now. Tottenham’s next ‘project’ begins and there really is a sense amongst the Spurs faithful that the next appointment will make or break Levy. In a recent meeting with the Tottenham Hotspur Supporters’ Trust the chairman was quizzed on his vision for the club. He responded by saying this – “We needed a manager that believed in our philosophy, where we would be entertained. Someone who can ideally bring the best out of experienced players and bring through youth, too.”

The early indications point towards Ajax boss Frank De Boer and Southampton’s Mauricio Pochettino after the disappointment of losing out on Louis Van Gaal to Manchester United. On the face of it there might not seem much of a difference between the two young coaches, but dig a little deeper and one appears to be a better fit for Spurs than the other.

We start with Frank De Boer. The Dutchman enjoyed an illustrious playing career, turning out for the likes of Ajax, Barcelona and Galatasary before hanging up his boots in 2006 and turning his hand to football management. Ironically, De Boer’s tactics are heavily influenced by Van Gaal – the man many backed to take the reins at Spurs this summer. They derive from Total Football, a style of play which yielded success for the Dutch national side throughout the ’70s. It focuses on possession, spatial awareness and collective player responsibility rather than individual talents. De Boer certainly comes with a pedigree having won four consecutive Eredivisie titles with Ajax. But with no Premier League experience, would he be gamble? Quite possibly. What concerns me more is that complex tactics don’t fall into place over night. It could quite conceivably take the Dutchman two or three years before we start to reap the benefits.

Next up is Mauricio Pochettino. The South American will be a familiar name amongst the Spurs fanbase having managed Southampton for the best part of two seasons. The Saints lingered just above the relegation zone when Pochettino took charge in January 2013. He has since transformed the south coast side, leading them to an 8th placed finish in the 2013/14 campaign. But what is the reason behind Southampton’s upturn in fortunes? Quite simply, the man himself. Having learnt his trade by studying former boss Marco Bielsa, Pochettino has managed to instil a brand of slick, high-tempo football perfectly suited to the pace of the Premier League. Unlike De Boer, Pochettino has experience of managing in an English league. More importantly he has experience of working under Nicola Cortese, a chairman known in the business for being a ruthless tyrant. It’s fair to say he’ll have no problems dealing with Levy.

We know that both managers are talented. We know that both could probably be persuaded to manage Spurs if the deal was right. But ultimately it comes down to us, the fans. Who can we afford the most time? De Boer’s football will undoubtedly take longer to get used to. It isn’t the stereotypical ‘Tottenham way’. We will have to be patient. And as we know, patience is not a quality that most Spurs fans boast.

Whoever the board choose this summer it will be a transition season, yet again. There’s no reason to be disheartened though. The players are there, the financial stability is there, the manger will soon be too. Just make sure you are there to support him.

Until next time…

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