Tottenham could be left behind in the summer manager merry-go-round
In a sense Tottenham Hotspur have the lead over other clubs throughout Europe in their search for a new head coach.
Following the departure of Antonio Conte, the vacancy is evidently there and talks can, in theory, more easily take place, especially with coaches who are not currently employed.
But the problem Tottenham have is that they are unlikely to be alone when it comes to needing a new manager this summer. And some of the candidates they want could decide they will wait and see what else comes up. Spurs need to be quick and decisive.
Agents are already well aware of what will probably come up, especially in Italy and Spain where the very biggest clubs are braced for change.
The ‘managerial merry-go-round’, to coin a cliche, has started with Bayern Munich stealing a march on Spurs and others by appointing former Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel, who was persuadable to stay in the Premier League.
Bayern decided they could not wait, with indications from Tuchel that he was not prepared to wait either, which freed Julian Nagelsmann back into the market, albeit at a high financial cost for the German club.
Understandably Spurs, who have themselves made Conte available, have placed Nagelsmann at the top of their list of targets along with the likes of Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi, Celtic’s Ange Postecoglou and former Spain coach Luis Enrique who is out of work.
It is already known that Mauricio Pochettino would be interested in returning to Spurs but, as yet, no approach has been made for the Argentinian, who left Paris Saint-Germain last summer.
PSG are another one of the big clubs likely to be in play given Pochettino’s successor Christophe Galtier has crashed out of the Champions League – ironically eliminated by Nagelsmann and Bayern – and is unlikely to survive beyond this campaign to see out the second year of his deal with the French giants.
Should Galtier leave they will undoubtedly try – again – to hire Zinedine Zidane having made several previous unsuccessful attempts. Previously, Zidane appeared reluctant to leave Spain and was hoping for the French national team post, while not moving from Madrid, before Didier Deschamps decided to stay.
What is also known is that Jose Mourinho still hankers after the PSG job, talks took place before Galtier was appointed, and Mourinho may be growing frustrated at Roma, especially if they miss out on Champions League qualification and a new contract is not yet on the table. A change there is possible.
Italy is likely to be the busiest of all managerial marketplaces. By comparison the Premier League is remarkably stable at the top unless Chelsea’s fortunes dive again and Graham Potter does not survive. But there does, especially with the recent upturn, appear to be a determination to keep him at Stamford Bridge, especially from co-owner Todd Boehly.
By contrast in Serie A it might not just be Mourinho who is on the move. Napoli’s dominance this season means they might have a fight on their hands to keep coach Luciano Spalletti – although president Aurelio De Laurentiis has insisted he will stay – while it has also increased the pressure on rivals.
Inter Milan are expected to part company with Simone Inzaghi and while there is an expectation that they would welcome Conte back, little has changed at the club in terms of investment, a matter which caused him so much frustration that he left in the first place. AC Milan’s poor defence of the title, trailing Napoli by 23 points, has also led to questions over the future of their coach Stefano Pioli, despite him taking them to the Champions League quarter-finals, where they face Napoli, with Inter also in the last eight.
While Juventus are beginning to stabilise under Massimiliano Allegri, they remain in seventh place and out of contention with a 15-point penalty imposed for financial irregularities. He, also, may not survive, with Conte, whose family home is in Turin where he returned to last week, a likely contender.
In Spain there is serious consideration being given to finally bring the Diego Simeone era to an end at Atletico Madrid. An obvious move for the former Inter and Lazio midfielder would be a return to Italy having previously shown no interest in England.
Across the capital it is known that Carlo Ancelotti is wanted by the Brazil national team with Ednaldo Rodrigues, president of the Brazil Football Federation (CBF), having said the Italian is the preferred choice. Ancelotti has a contract until 2024 at Real Madrid but there is a sense that he will leave this summer after a poor domestic season, trailing Barcelona by 12 points.
Before Nagelsmann joined Bayern in 2021 there were also discussions with Madrid – and Spurs – although the criticism he has faced in Germany for appearing to struggle to cope at a big club may count against the 35-year-old. Maybe Zidane will return to the Bernabeu, maybe they go for Conte or Pochettino.
There are other coaches to consider. In February, Leeds United wanted Arne Slot, who has done an outstanding job at Feyenoord who are league leaders in the Netherlands, on a fraction of Ajax’s budget, and play exciting football. But bigger clubs may come calling in the summer. It may be the same for Rayo Vallecano’s Andoni Iraola, who Leeds also wanted. In Portugal, Sporting’s Ruben Amorim is much in demand and will move eventually.
Rarely does a ‘managerial merry-go-round’ actually get going – it tends to be a media/ agent-driven construct – but certainly across the continent this time there is a greater sense of flux. It might make it more difficult for Spurs who, for several leading European coaches, do not necessarily have the same pull which means they would be well-advised to be decisive in their search.