Tottenham Hotspur’s managerial search has been proceeding for several weeks now and the only thing we can say for certain is that there isn’t any more clarity than when the search kicked off. The media has breathlessly nominated various candidates as either “on the shortlist” or “top of the list,” to the point where the shortlist has effectively become, well, a rather long shortlist.
So what do we know? Well, not a lot apart from Julian Nagelsmann is definitely one of the candidates and that he’s taking his time making a decision. That said, in an article in the Evening Standard this morning, Dan Kilpatrick dropped one tidbit that is kind of interesting. Spurs have spent the past few weeks doing “due diligence” on potential managers, and has now moved on to actually interviewing candidates.
Kilpatrick noted specifically two new(ish) names — Ruben Amorim, and Xabi Alonso. Amorim, currently at Sporting Lisbon, has been floating around somewhat lower down on the list of potential managers for a while now, but his name hasn’t caught on like some of the other potential candidates like Nagelsmann, Feyenoord’s Arne Slot, or Luis Enrique. He’s a young and dynamic manager who is likely going to be in demand, and Kilpatrick says he’d be interested in taking over at the end of the season, though he would have a “substantial” compensation fee to get him out of his contract.
Alonso, meanwhile, is a surprise new addition to the list, first mentioned in an article a couple of days ago in Dutch outlet De Telegraaf that was mostly about Slot. Xabi hasn’t been in the managerial ranks very long but has done good things this season with Bayer Leverkusen since taking over in October. Curiously, Daniel Levy and incoming Chief Football Officer Scott Munn were spotted in a London airport, with some online sleuths suggesting they were on their way to Germany. I haven’t watched much Bayer (yet) but he is by all accounts another young, progressive, attacking manager. He’s also extremely handsome (or at minimum... he’s not too Xabi).
Kilpatrick also says Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi is also on the list, despite his unseemly sideline antics when Spurs faced them this spring, as is Celtic’s Aussie boss Ange Postecoglu.
In some ways this does show some promising signs of a good managerial search process. The club is insisting that there’s no front runner, but all of the names mentioned here are solid, progressive managers with good attacking systems and a history of success at other clubs. That should give us some comfort that the person we’re trying to bring in will be substantively different than Spurs’ past three appointments and closer to Tottenham’s “DNA.”
It also suggests that Spurs are going to take their time to get this right. And there’s still a lot to do — in addition to a manager there’s also a need for a new Director of Football to succeed Fabio Paratici, and it’s likely that these two searches are in some ways intertwined. It also means that we’re going to be talking about a bunch of names as reports of interviews come and go over the next few weeks, and that we may not know much more than that for a while.