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Tottenham’s agonising manager search, Mourinho’s legacy and a familiar theme

On almost any other day it would have been quite the bombshell.

But the morning of April 19, 2021 was one in which the football landscape was already so decimated that one more explosion across it wasn’t going to hurt.

Because it was in the midst of those few, agonising hours when we thought the European Super League could actually be possible that Tottenham went and sacked Jose Mourinho.

We’d knew it was coming in the distance, but in the short sharp now it was a bit of shock. Then we all went back to cursing Andrea Agnelli and Florentino Perez.

Saturday will mark two months since Mourinho’s departure from Spurs though, and so you’d think that would be enough time to develop a coherent, methodical strategy over who to appoint in his stead.

Mourinho was saked as Spurs boss in the middle of the Super League storm

At the base level it was already pretty clear what was needed anyway.

Mourinho’s stock had fallen so far by the end as Spurs supporters lamented his style of football, so his replacement could do with being a manager who would put smiles on faces, points on the table, players in the attacking third and crucially money in the bank.

That latter goal will remain an overarching concern for the club’s board as they seek to keep up with the very top clubs in the country, whose company they have enjoyed for much of the past decade before a recent slip back.

Ryan Mason could do those first three bits pretty easily though.

He could talk about the values of the club as a man who has lived and breathed them, he could throw his arm around his good mate Harry Kane and he could give Gareth Bale a place in the team, and all of that was fine for the final few weeks of the season.

But Ryan Mason is 29.

He could have got Spurs into the Champions League of course, but you always sensed that the damage to that bid was already done by Mourinho, whose supporters were lining up to defend and criticise the decision to sack just days before the Carabao Cup final.

Ryan Mason was always a temporary fix
Ryan Mason was always a temporary fix

Winning that would have been a nice boost for success-starved supporters, but ultimately it wouldn’t have changed much, Spurs would still be slipping behind sides they were more than comfortable in the company of in the recent past.

Since then it has been the bond with supporters that has been slipping.

After the initial euphoria of the potential reappointment of Mauricio Pochettino – something that always seemed much more likely in the hopes and dreams of fans than anywhere else – has now come a steady trudge through a list of candidates that have pretty much got worse the longer it goes on.

There is no doubt that Antonio Conte would have been a good appointment, for about a season-and-a-third anyway, but when the former Chelsea and Inter Milan boss pulled out of talks due to concerns over the club’s ambition then something seemed to change in the ever-increasing list of prospective new bosses.

Because while Pochettino was the romantic appointment and Conte the ruthless one, neither Paulo Fonseca or Gennaro Gattuso had the CV to excite the Spurs fans, and so sense of doom crept in.

Fabio Paratici hasn't had the smoothest of starts
Fabio Paratici hasn’t had the smoothest of starts

New managing director Fabio Paratici is the man overseeing all this, hence perhaps the Italian links to the most recent three candidates.

He is a man just weeks into his job and so perhaps we can forgive him for this, especially in these times when we’re still encouraged not to have face-to-face meetings, but does he really know what the Tottenham fans want? Did he see the dire football Mourinho played? Does he know that daring is doing?

Now he certainly knows that Gattuso wouldn’t have been welcome in north London given the reaction to some of his previous comments on race, women in football and same-sex marriages that dominated Spurs fans’ social media discourse on Thursday evening.

The club’s fans should be proud of their social conscience, but there were always more reasons than these for Gattuso not being right fit.

But sure enough, once there was a backlash those discussions with the Italian were swiftly ended, almost as if they never happened in the first place.

A bit like something that happened two months ago in fact.

Tottenham eventually listened to their fans on that one, and while they really shouldn’t need to be told what to do this time around they could perhaps do with a friendly word or three aimed in their direction anyway.

Sort it out.




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