I was halfway through writing this article when the news about Tottenham Hotspur firing Mauricio Pochettino broke. It seems even more appropriate now than it did just an hour ago. With Pochettino out the door, all eyes are now turning towards who might be his replacement, and we’ll have plenty of coverage about this very topic over the coming days.
One of the names that’s on almost everyone’s list is RB Leipzig manager Julian Nagelsmann. The 31-year old German made a name for himself as a young manager at Hoffenheim before leaving for the best of the Red Bull clubs this summer. Thus far it’s worked — he’s guided Die Roten Bullen to second in the Bundesliga this season, level with Bayern Munich and four behind Gladbach.
However, journalist Raphael Honigstein has poured cold water on the idea that Nagelsmann might be tempted by a summer (or earlier!) move to north London. Writing for the Athletic ($), Honigstein says that while Nagelsmann was interested in a move to the Premier League last summer, now that he’s entrenched at Leipzig, that ship has sailed, with a source calling it “one year too late.”
The 32-year-old was open to a move abroad during his final season at Hoffenheim (2018-19) but eventually decided to succeed Ralf Rangnick at Leipzig with a view of establishing the Red Bull-sponsored club as a Bundesliga heavyweight this summer. “This is not a short-term project to him,” the source added.
Nagelsmann’s stated aim is to become the first RBL coach to win a trophy. “At some stage, we want to hold some silverware in our hands,” he said at his inaugural press conference in July.
—Raphael Honigstein, The Athletic
That sucks. I’m on the record of being opposed to firing Pochettino, but since he’s gone, you could do a lot worse than hiring a young German manager with a proven track record of overachieving in a major European league. In his three years at Hoffenheim, he twice finished in the top four. That’s the equivalent of taking, say, Wolves to the Premier League. Or maybe (sob) Leicester.
Honigstein’s article came before news broke about Pochettino’s sacking. Maybe that changes the calculus, or maybe it doesn’t. If we take Honigstein’s article at face value, it’s looking like Spurs may have to look elsewhere to find their next manager, and that’s too bad.