Tottenham manager search bears all the depressing hallmarks of 2021 hunt after Arne Slot decision
Only Daniel Levy and his inner circle know the true extent of Tottenham’s interest in Arne Slot, and only the Dutchman’s agent, Rafaela Pimenta, and Feyenoord general manager Dennis te Kloese know what was said in Wednesday’s crunch meeting over his future.
But whichever way you look at Slot’s decision to remain at Feyenoord, which he announced on Thursday morning, it does not reflect well on Spurs.
Either Spurs were used by the 44-year-old as leverage in his contract negotiations with Feyenoord; or they were turned down by Slot; or they were unable to agree a compensation package with the Eredivisie champions.
Whatever the case, Spurs’s situation is starting to bear alarming similarities to their shambolic summer of 2021, when they limped to the end of a dispiriting season under interim head coach Ryan Mason before a summer of lurching from one managerial target to the next.
They eventually settled on Nuno Espirito Santo at the end of a chaotic 72-day process — and everyone knows how that worked out.
It is now 60 days since Antonio Conte left the club by mutual agreement on March 27 (if Spurs are still without a boss on June 7, they will have surpassed the 2021 edition), and it was blindingly obviously for weeks before then that the Italian had checked out and would need replacing sooner rather than later.
At the time of Conte’s departure, Spurs were in a relative position of strength, still with a top-four finish within their grasp, a host of exciting and progressive coaches in the running and, crucially, the upper hand over Chelsea and any major European clubs planning a change in the summer.
In the past two months, they have frittered away their head-start and, as the season draws to a close, they are running out of targets who would really energise and excite the fanbase — and ease the pressure on Levy.
Spurs are running out of targets who would really energise and excite the fanbase — and ease the pressure on Levy
The chairman is also searching for a new director of football after the resignation of Fabio Paratici and, just like summer 2021 when the Italian arrived at Spurs with his own ideas, there is still a chance that this year’s manager search could veer off in a whole new direction if Levy names Paratici’s successor first.
Adding to the pressure on Levy, Mauricio Pochettino has been overlooked, leaving him free to join rivals Chelsea, and Spurs have said they do not intend to speak to Julian Nagelsmann, although why they would genuinely pass up the chance to interview one of Europe’s most exciting young coaches, who is currently out of work, is not clear.
Spurs have, in fairness, insisted all along that there is no front-runner for the job and there are still exciting candidates out there, but supporters understandably are losing faith in the club’s ability to make a top appointment.