MATT BARLOW: Daniel Levy must LOVE BOMB Julian Nagelsmann to avoid the shambles of Tottenham’s previous manager searches… the German is tactically adaptable, energetic and fresh
- Tottenham are without a manager after Antonio Conte left the club on Sunday
- Former Bayern boss Julian Nagelsmann is the favourite to replace him
- Spurs should do everything in their power to land the 35-year-old coach
Before Daniel Levy revs up the hoverboard and chases Julian Nagelsmann down Munich’s Sendlinger Strasse, he really should make sure he does not lead Tottenham along another embarrassing road to nowhere.
Two years ago, Nagelsmann was in Levy’s sights as he prepared to dismiss Jose Mourinho. Bayern Munich got there first and Spurs suffered the first of what quickly developed into an ignominious cascade of rejections.
Brendan Rodgers ruled himself out as he led Leicester to the FA Cup, Hansi Flick pounced on the Germany job and Erik ten Hag extended his contract at Ajax after failing to impress Levy during an interview over Zoom.
Mauricio Pochettino fluttered his eyelashes from Paris, Graham Potter kept a respectful distance and stayed silent in Brighton and Antonio Conte could not be tempted to jump straight back into work after quitting Inter Milan.
Paulo Fonseca appeared to have it sewn up, but the deal collapsed and Tottenham fans recoiled in horror at a move for Rino Gattuso before the appointment of Nuno Espirito Santo, days before the start of pre-season.
Julian Nagelsmann is the favourite to replace Antonio Conte as Spurs manager
He was previously chased by Tottenham two years ago before taking the Bayern job
The whole process had taken 72 days, during which time Ryan Mason was in interim control, and they ended up with Nuno, whose candidacy they dismissed upon his initial exit from Wolves because his football was considered too cautious and unadventurous.
Chairman Levy issued a message to fans ahead of the final home game of the season, against Aston Villa, admitting the club had lost sight of ‘what’s truly in our DNA’ and promising to keep it in mind during the recruitment process.
‘We are acutely aware of the need to select someone whose values reflect those of our great club,’ he said, ‘and return to playing football with the style for which we are known – free-flowing, attacking and entertaining – whilst continuing to embrace our desire to see young players flourish from our academy, alongside experienced talent.’
Levy’s first instinct on Nuno was probably accurate. If Spurs have DNA then he did not share it. Nor did Mourinho. Nor did Conte, despite the thrilling finish to last season. It is time to abandon the myth that somewhere out there is a miracle-worker waiting for the call, someone who can sweep in and cure all the club’s problems.
Tottenham have to identify the candidate who suits them and their means and forget about prestige and global appeal. That is what they did when they eked Pochettino out of Southampton.
Nagelsmann certainly feels like a more natural fit. He is fresh and energetic, despite his problems at Bayern, committed to progressive football and with experience of taking on wealthier clubs from his days at Hoffenheim and Leipzig.
The 35-year-old coach will have to be sold on the North London club
Conte left the club by mutual consent on Sunday after ranting at his players following a 3-3 draw with Southampton
Neither Nuno Espirito Santo not Jose Mourinho suited Tottenham in their spells in charge
Tactically he is adaptable, with enough experience of playing with a back three to handle this Tottenham squad, heavily stacked in that direction to satisfy Conte. He would also be a popular appointment with a hard-to-please fanbase, although he does not appear keen to jump straight into another job.
WHO IS NAGELSMANN?
He is 35-years-old but Julian Nagelsmann has already had three managerial jobs, since retiring from playing in 2008.
In 2019, he began his coaching career at Hoffenheim and got the first-team job in 2016, where he led them to successive top-four finishes.
He moved to RB Leipzig in 2019 and took them to the Champions League semi-final after beating Jose Mourinho’s Spurs 4-0.
Nagelsmann joined Bayern Munich on a five-year-deal in 2021 for a then world record managerial fee of £22million.
Despite winning the Bundeslga in his first season, the German was sacked. His time at Bayern ended with a 71.4 per cent win rate.
Apparently, he would prefer a break after two intense years at Bayern and, in the meantime, will assess his options.
Therein lies a problem for Levy because Nagelsmann on the market will attract others, including clubs not scarred by a brutal drive-by assassination from the outgoing manager.
Conte’s post-Southampton blast does nothing to enhance Tottenham’s appeal.
Besides, who would be in a rush to take over at Spurs right now? The best you can do with 10 games to go is hang on to fourth in the Premier League, an achievement Conte will take most of the credit for given half a chance. Lose it — and there are teams in the chasing pack with games in hand — and any new dawn has a whiff of failure before it has begun.
Levy has weighed all this up and taken the calculated risk of a return to the interim solution as he bides his time. Maybe as he prises his top target out of another job, such as Ruben Amorim, Roberto de Zerbi, Steve Cooper or Marco Silva.
Maybe to give his candidate a clean slate in the summer, such as Pochettino, still fluttering eyelashes but no longer from Paris, or Luis Enrique. Maybe while he works out what to do.
Not only is there a search for a new manager but Fabio Paratici, who led the search for the last two, is fighting to survive in his role as managing director, charged in the Italian courts over his role in a financial scandal during his time at Juventus.
Daniel Levy should do all he can to bring Nagelsmann to North London in the summer
Into this void will step Conte’s former assistant Cristian Stellini helped by Mason, starting with an injury setback. Emerson Royal is out for six weeks with a knee injury sustained on international duty with Brazil, ahead of Monday’s trip to Everton.
Stellini, who was in charge when Conte was recuperating from surgery this year to remove his gallbladder, is under contract until the end of the season and this involves less upheaval than ousting all the Italians and cobbling together a new backroom team from academy staff.
It will help dilute any direct comparisons with the fiasco two years ago and shield Mason, who is highly regarded, from further criticism if it all goes awry.
Levy has, club sources insist, learned those lessons. He is conscious to avoid those same mistakes. Hop on the hoverboard, we are about to find out.
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