We’ve lived long enough with Antonio Conte as the manager of Tottenham Hotspur to know that no matter what happens on or off the pitch there will always be some level of uncertainty about whether the Italian manager will someday spontaneously disappear in a puff of pique. So despite a number of reassuring statements from the man himself or thinkpieces in the footballing media, there’s always going to be a chance that we’ll wake up one morning to discover that Conte has apparated over to, say, Paris for a new opportunity. Accio Mbappe!
None of us should be surprised then to see two new reports in the Spurs-o-sphere this morning — one from Matt Law in the Telegraph, the other from Sami Mokbel in the Daily Mail — that suggest Spurs are quietly crafting contingency plans for this eventuality. Both of them are reporting the same information, which doesn’t mean much except that they both apparently have the same source from within or near the Tottenham camp. And according to both reports, the romantic return of Mauricio Pochettino to Tottenham isn’t as assured as fans seem to think it is.
According to Law and Mokbel, there’s some level of resistance from some pockets of Spurs’ administration to the idea of Dad coming home, and there are two new dark horses in the race — Brighton & Hove Albion manager Graham Potter, and Italy boss Roberto Mancini.
Spurs took a long hard look at Potter last summer, but Potter declined the job and Spurs decided (for, um, reasons) to hire Nuno Espirito Santo. The Brighton manager is a known commodity and well regarded as someone who can maximize return from his players, based on Brighton’s performance in the league the past couple of seasons. It’s not entirely clear however whether Potter would be more interested in the job this time around.
Mancini is a bit out of left field. The connection is pretty obvious — Paratici, innit? — and there’s the thought that he might be easier to pry away from the IFF now that Italy have been bounced out of World Cup qualifying.
Both reports state that Pochettino would very much be in the mix to replace Conte should decide that his job is finished and he must return to his home planet, but the club would do its due diligence and look at other candidates as well. As we well know, at Tottenham Hotspur heavy lies the crown.
All of this is obviously predicated on Conte actually leaving. And the tea leaves have repeatedly indicated that THAT is predicated on Tottenham qualifying for the Champions League and Conte being significantly backed in the transfer market. That’s a lot of hypothetical dominoes, but you can hardly blame Spurs for starting to set them up, just in case one gets knocked over.