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The biggest 5 problems facing the next Tottenham manager

Julian Nagelsmann, Arne Slot, and Ryan Mason all have their hats in the ring to become the next Spurs headmaster,; a job that comes with a myriad of frustrating issues to tackle

The story of perennial top six Premier League outfit Tottenham is one wrought with trials, tribulations, and considerable heartbreak.

Spurs certainly can boast a credible profile of their own which has grown over recent years since their ascendency into a position where many consider them one of the biggest clubs in England, but the reality is that, overall, they fall well short of capital rivals Arsenal and Chelsea when a true measuring stick is applied.

This is no bad thing, mind you, especially after memorable moments in recent seasons lent plenty of weight to the notion that the club was on pace to becoming a true powerhouse both at home and abroad. After reaching the final of the Champions League in 2018-19 on the back of three consecutive prior seasons on the domestic front where they placed third (2015-16), second (2016-17), and third again (2017-18) in the Premier League, while Spurs had also pulled ahead of their bitter Gunners rivals who were in the midst of their own recovery process in the post-Arsène Wenger years.

Try as they may have, Tottenham had been unable to truly acquit themselves in a manner that would suggest any initial progress from 2015-19 was going to be sustainable. Perhaps most frustratingly, the hiring of José Mourinho and Antonio Conte by club chairman Daniel Levy on paper showed plenty of intent to progress, but a lack of being able to provide serial winners with the tools to do what they are best at was a death knell for the managerial pair.

On the basis of that alone, this makes the next appointment at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium absolutely vital in the sense that whoever is brought into the fold must match whatever the club’s remit is moving forward; something they entirely failed in relation to Mourinho and Conte.

This aspect of the task at hand was brilliantly discussed by NBCSports’ Tim Howard and Danny Higginbotham recently and must be a focal point of the discussion as Tottenham remain heavily linked with both Julian Nagelsmann and Feyenoord Rotterdamn’s Arne Slot, as well as interim manager Ryan Mason who has now put forth his name for consideration.

But what precisely would taking up the managerial post in the Tottenham technical area entail? 101 Great Goals’ own Jamie Brown (founder of Daily Hotspur), one of many unfortunate Spurs supporters who continue in their efforts to make sense of the club’s many dilemmas, detailed a five-point list of problems that the next man in would be made to contend with.

Fixing confidence in the dressing room

A commodity that is so often hard to quantify in any tangible manner, the morale factor among a senior squad in professional football is so often a make-or-break trait that is difficult to point to one way or another. Even the most supremely confident sides are capable of utter capitulation, while fragile outfits have so often done the unthinkable and upset the apple cart. But what is clear, especially in the wake of Spurs surrendering five goals against Newcastle in the opening 21-minutes at St. James’ Park at the weekend, is that heads are being stuck in the sand in north London at the wrong time.

It is very easy, and even probably, to suggest that so much of the uncertainty and infectious confidence drop in the dressing room has come down to the issues in regards to the manager. With Antonio Conte gone, Cristian Stellini was clearly incapable of writing the ship; which is hardly a surprise given that he was Conte’s man to begin with. Reports suggest that Ryan Mason is well-liked among the senior team as well as the club’s hierarchy, so handing him the reins for the remainder of the season could solve this question by default.

Criticism of that could easily come if you only survey Chelsea and their current folly after putting faith in Frank Lampard to steady their own ship on account of his stature in that part of the city as well as the admiration he maintains at board level and among the players. That has clearly failed. As for Mason, a former Spurs midfielder who joined the coaching staff five years ago in 2018, perhaps it could be different. Should he help Spurs find their voice in the closing weeks, it is plausible that Levy may turn to him as the next full-time manager, but if not, it is imperative that the new man is one that fits the players and the project in equal measure. That factor alone would go a long way in helping those that will persist in the club’s ranks feel as if the project once again has a destination that is tangible.

Returning Son Heung-min to form

Perhaps I am not the best person to discuss this overall topic - and indeed the entire piece at large - given my many years as an Arsenal supporter, but even I cannot deny just how good South Korean star Son Heung-min has been for the club since his arrival from Bayer Leverkusen.

The 30-year-old left-winger has long been one of the brightest attacking outlets in the league in the eight seasons he’s spent in the capital, with six of them including at least 11 league goals, while the Chuncheon-born attacker hit a sensational 23 goals last season. There is no denying how good he can be, but like clockwork and as part of a collective that has failed to hit its objectives, Son has been one of many Spurs players to massively underperform this season.

At the time of writing, Son has just eight goals to his name in thirty league appearances. Some say that he has suffered greatly on account of Kane chasing a goal record, while the usual telepathic connection between the dynamic duo appears to be greatly disjointed. There is scope to suggest that Son could be reborn if Kane does leave in the summer and a more collective attacking approach adopted moving forward, but that certainly remains to be seen. Though already 30, Son still has plenty left in the tank to give, and even if for another few seasons, he should still be viewed as a necessary cog in the wheel.

Choosing a new captain

Reports of a massive bust-up involving Hugo Lloris, the former French international could be out of the door in the summer given his deal carries just one year left after the current 2022-23 campaign. And while Spurs will have a tough ask of bringing in a new keeper to replace the long-time shot-stopper, bigger questions surrounding who the new face of on-pitch leadership will be.

Naturally, that honor will fall on Kane should he opt to stay at the club, but in the event that he chooses to walk (see more below), one must wonder if any current players at the club are the right fit to step into the breach in his stead. Calls for Son Heung-min could certainly be made given his connection to the fans and his reputation at the club from a playing perspective, and much of the same can probably be said about Pierre-Emile Højbjerg on account of his influence in the central engine room.

That theory is given further weight after it is believed that the Danish international is part of the leadership collective in the senior setup that has been referenced of late when it comes to the club’s hunt for a new manager. Though fans on social media have begun to seriously question some of his recent performances, there is probably no better than for the job given all factors involved.

Getting the best out of Pedro Porro and Destiny Udogie

Despite some questionable deals that have been done by Spurs that made clear a disconnect between Antonio Conte and Daniel Levy during the Italian’s tenure, not every move in the market can be criticized. On the tactical side of things, Spurs still have a cadre of talent that can be built around by the next regime, with two prized assets in Pedro Porro and Destiny Udogie arguably being the pick of the bunch.

Though young Italian left-back Udogie spent the season on loan at Udinese Calcio for much-needed continued seasoning in the Serie A, the 20-year-old Verona native has been one of the leading lights for Udine this season while offering an attacking profile capable of providing both goals an assists across a season that has him clocked in as one of the most effective U21 players anywhere in Europe.

Porro has already been in the midst of his teething period at Tottenham after his winter arrival from Sporting CP, but the Spanish right-back has largely received mixed reviews as he continues to adapt to life in England. Highly touted before his move and capable on his day, it would be unfair to run the rule over the 23-year-old just yet, especially this season, but it is certainly clear that Spurs have not gotten the best out of him.

Whoever is the next man in, it is likely that a back three deployment will not be relied on, but that should not strip the club of its chance to highlight the qualities of both players down either flank, given the success of another of top sides around Europe that rely on wide play through full-backs. Much of that will likely come down to acquiring reinforcements both in midfield and defense in order to cover the vacancies left behind as they bomb forward starting next season, particularly if Spurs lack central creativity akin to some other clubs around them. Whether it be through underlapping runs or overlapping outlets meant to provide service, much of the club’s ability to tap into its talent will fall to a manager that has yet to be decided on.

Replacing Harry Kane

Arguably the biggest issue facing not just the next Tottenham manager, but the club as a whole, is just how Spurs intend to replace star man Harry Kane should the England icon decide to finally part ways with a club so near and dear to him.

There is a real chance that Kane could walk amid considerable turmoil and the notion that he has no pathway to a trophy win at the club, despite his steaming toward goalscoring records that have stood for years. League rivals Manchester United would present an immediate pathway to a club that is ahead of Spurs in the table and from a managerial perspective, while likely offering Champions League football next season.

Should Kane decide to test himself in greener pastures, there are, fortunately, a myriad of options for Spurs to potentially turn to during the summer transfer window. Juventus’ Dušan Vlahović, LOSC Lille’s Jonathan David, and SSC Napoli’s Victor Osimhen are all potential candidates to replace Harry Kane, as are domestic options the likes of Brentford’s Ivan Toney and Aston Villa’s Ollie Watkins.

Though it remains unclear how Kane can be replaced, or even if he will need to be when push comes to shove, should he push for a move away from north London, there is no more difficult job for an incoming manager than properly replacing a player who has consistently scored 20-plus-goals in the league.

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Andrew Thompson

US-based Football writer. German football guru with a wealth of experience in youth development and analysis. Data aficionado. Happily championing the notion that Americans have a knowledgeable voice in the beautiful game.

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