Tottenham manager Antonio Conte may have given himself - and the worldwide fan base - a bit of a reprieve when it comes to the mounting questions surrounding the situation in north London after a 4-0 win against capital rivals Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.
On a night when many felt that a poor result against Patrick Vieira’s could see Conte walk or the club part ways with the experienced Italian manager, the fact that Spurs sit fifth but are desperate for results speaks volumes regarding how the Conte-Paratici duopoly has got on since it arrived from Serie A.
With Conte, you not only know precisely what he is about but also what he needs to succeed on the pitch. The fact that there appears to be a continued - and loud - disconnect between the former Italian international and the club brass headed by Daniel Levy when it comes to available funds as well as certain transfer deals in the summer.
Despite suggestions that there is a window of opportunity that could see Conte remain at Spurs for a longer period than anticipated, the Italian’s managerial record speaks to top-end success in a short time frame. Long-term growth and sustainability are not key remits of any of his previous postings, and in that light, there should be real concerns levied on where the club goes from here when he inevitably departs either on his own terms or possibly sacked if results - and form on the pitch - remain sketchy at best.
So, with the landscape being what it is, my colleague (and Daily Hotspur founder) Jamie Brown championed certain criteria in what he would want in a manager if the situation with Conte reaches the point of no return; plays attacking football, willing to work in line with the club’s transfer policy regarding young players, and having no former ties to Chelsea (ruling out Thomas Tuchel).
Given those talking points, 101 Great Goals takes a look at five managerial candidates that Tottenham could potentially turn to should Antonio Conte depart north London.
Previous managerial postings: Spanish national team, Futbol Club Barcelona, RC Celta de Vigo, AS Roma, Futbol Club Barcelona B
Overall managerial record: 255-92-87 (58.76% win rate)
Total honors: 9; La Liga (2), Copa del Rey (3), Supercopa de España, UEFA Champions League, UEFA Super Cup, Club World Cup
Arguably the most suitable candidate given the desired criteria, former Spanish international and Barcelona icon Luis Enrique would turn heads if he was to follow up his credible double period with La Roja by moving to north London. But with Enrique would undoubtedly come an immediate shelving of the current tactical schematics under Conte and replaced with possession-based football of a highly technical level on par with Arsenal and Manchester City.
Enrique’s Spain had often dazzled at times on the international stage despite the manner of their exit at the recent 2022 World Cup at the hands of tournament darling Morocco, but even more so, the Gijón native’s three-year tenure on the touchline at Camp Nou is a clear indication of what he brings to the table at club level. Most importantly Enrique has a heavily-established track record of relying on young talent with great success both at Barcelona and with Spain, with the emergence of - and eventual faith placed in - Gavi and Pedri as key figures for the national team despite both being under the age of 20 as proof positive that, with Enrique, Spurs could instill a long-term project that would have a chance at sustainability.
Previous managerial postings: Club Atlético River Plate, Club Nacional de Football
Overall managerial record: 251-118-94 (54.21% win rate)
Total honors: 15; Premera División, Copa Argentina (3), Supercopa Argentina (2), Trofeo de Campeones de la Liga Profesional, Copa Libertadores (2), Copa Sudamericana, Recopa Sudamericana (3), Suruga Bank Championship, Uruguayan Primera División
Former Argentine international midfielder Marcelo Gallardo is an unknown managerial quantity on the European landscape despite spending five years in Ligue 1 during his playing days when he featured for both AS Monaco (1999-2003) and Paris Saint-Germain (2007-08). But when it comes to his managerial record in his home country as well as in neighboring Uruguay, Gallardo has built a reputation on nothing but success.
The Buenos Aires native won Uruguay’s top-flight competition in his first year in club management and would promptly answer the call for boyhood club River Plate in 2014 before headlining a record-tying 32-match unbeaten run while receiving critical acclaim in the Argentine press as well as offering highly attractive attacking football as well as utilizing River’s vaunted academy set up to good effect, with the likes of Manchester City’s Julián Álvarez seeing time under Gallardo’s command. Much of his credible attributes during his playing days have seeped into his tactical preferences as a manager, with River scoring 755 goals during his 424 matches in charge across eight seasons. It certainly would be a jump to arrive in Europe directly to the Premier League, but his record in a historically hotly contested competition speaks for itself.
Previous managerial postings: Stade de Reims, RC Celta de Vigo, Olympiacos, AS Saint-Étienne, RasenBallsport Salzburg, Watford FC, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Brighton & Hove Albion
Overall managerial record: 137-84-74 (46.44% win rate)
Total honors: 5; Austrian Bundesliga (2), ÖFB Cup (2), Israeli Premier League
Perhaps the biggest risk on the list, former Spanish youth international Óscar García certainly brings a wealth of managerial experience despite his journeyman profile after the Sabadell native has seen stints in five different countries across eight different clubs. Unlike the aforementioned Enrique and Gallardo, however, García has not managed at a club of real significance in the current footballing landscape, but his time at former giant pair Saint-Étienne and Reims deserves credit, as well as his successful years in Austria with RB Salzburg.
García has a wealth of experience with young talent during most of his managerial postings - particularly with Salzburg - but perhaps the most credible yet brief period in his career on the touchline came last season in Reims where, under his guidance, the club had fresh life breathed into its ability to develop young talent on the pitch, which eventually led to both Hugo Ekitike and Wout Faes securing bigger moves away from northern France this past summer after rapidly developing under his guidance. García also received praise for his tactical principles during the club’s midtable finish, but it is likely that few in the Spurs fan base would view him as a big enough name to take on the club’s project. But of those available, he should certainly be considered.
Previous managerial postings: RasenBallsport Leipzig, FC Spartak Moscow, Fußballclub Gelsenkirchen-Schalke 04, Fußball Club Erzgebirge Aue
Overall managerial record: 86-38-54 (48.31% win rate)
Total honors: 1; DFB-Pokal
Footballing education is of vital importance, but having the right platform to instill your principles is equally if not more vital as managers seek to establish themselves in their careers. This has never been more true than for that of Domenico Tedesco. A certified Fußball-Lehrer after finishing top of his class - ahead of Julian Nagelsmann - at Germany’s Hennes-Weisweiler-Akademie, big thing things have been expected from the former lower league player. His immediate influence at Erzgebirge Aue after saving them from relegation was commendable, but an initial successful period with Schalke turned sour largely due to the club’s issues from top to bottom.
But he reaffirmed his credibility with Spartak Moscow and gained plenty of plaudits from the Russian press and the club’s fan base before heading back to his native Germany with RB Leipzig and presiding over the club’s first-ever DFK-Pokal win before a poor run to begin the current season saw him sacked somewhat undeservingly. Tedesco’s principles that rely on a high-octane press, strong combination play in possession, and technical craft all while being innovative in many manners of his approach have many in Germany hoping he will find success. Spurs would be a mighty jump indeed, but the meat and potatoes currently at the club would be plenty for him to work with.
Previous managerial postings: Paris Saint-Germain, Tottenham Hotspur, Southampton FC, Reial Club Deportiu Espanyol de Barcelona
Overall managerial record: 290-133-175 (48.49% win rate)
Total honors: 3; Ligue 1, Coupe de France, Trophée des Champions
Last but not least, a return for Mauricio Pochettino certainly cannot be ruled out; not just for the nostalgic pull, but because perhaps there is no better person to reinvigorate a club than a man that had already achieved that aim previously while also guiding Spurs to a Champions League final.
The Argentine’s work at Southampton before his first stint with Spurs was the high-water mark for Saints in the Premier League era, and the brand of football that the former international midfielder planted in north London was arguably the best - and most consistent - level of play that the club has achieved in years. There is no sense in analyzing what Poch would bring to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, all that he would need is the full backing of Daniel Levy and the club’s board when it came to player recruitment. Though he never won major honors with Spurs, there are many who felt that, under his reign, the club could have achieved something special.