• John Gilding

SPECIAL G-ONE: THREE MANAGERS THAT COULD REPLACE JOSE MOURINHO AT SPURS


Pressure is mounting on the special one. Three points in the last six games for Spurs is not a good record, and the next three games against Burnley, Fulham and Crystal Palace will be a big test for Mourinho to keep his job. Spurs are in the final of Carabao Cup, and set to get into the round-of-16 of the Europa League, unless Wolfsberger pull off a miracle. However, the league performance cannot be ignored, and Tottenham will be starting to look for alternatives, should the worst happen. These three would be a good place to start.


The Veteran – Ernesto Valverde


Valverde’s image is clouded by the last season of his Barcelona tenure, but that small window of his managerial career is not a fair reflection of his abilities. In the two full seasons he had at Barcelona, he won the title both times. He spent three seasons at Olympiacos and won three Greek titles. He was in charge of front-runners both times, granted, but Valverde is a proven winner. And trophies are hard to come by in the white-shirted side of London at the moment.


Valverde’s tactical approach is well documented, mostly along with criticisms of it not being true to Barcelona’s philosophy, but it is effective. It also lends itself nicely to Tottenham Hotspur. At Bilbao, Valverde used Aduriz, a very physical striker heavily as the focus of his attacks, with much faster players playing around and off him. That role could easily be played by Harry Kane, with Son or Lucas the pacier options.


Valverde would probably not be a very popular appointment with Spurs fans, because of his more recent past, but he could be a success in London. With around 30 years of experience of managing at the top level to bring to the table, and the fact that he doesn’t have to be persuaded to leave another club, he is a solid option, and one the Tottenham board should be looking into.


The In-form – Julien Nagelsmann


The youngest coach in Bundesliga history is flying high right now with RB Leipzig, despite star striker Timo Werner leaving in the summer. Don’t let last week’s Champions League defeat against Liverpool fool you, the Leipzig that travelled to Budapest was not the Leipzig that is vying for the Bundesliga title.


Nagelsmann plays exciting football on the front foot and would rely on the qualities of Son and Kane heavily at Spurs. He also deploys his full-backs in a very attacking manner, as Angeliño’s 4 goals and 6 assists this season demonstrates. Reguilón and Matt Doherty would sparkle in a Nagelsmann system. Out of possession, he prefers a high-intensity press, followed by quick counter-attacks, but Nagelsmann, unlike some more experienced coaches, is more willing to mould his tactics around the players at his disposal. Expect offensive football, but maybe not exactly what we’ve seen in Germany.


The problem with appointing Nagelsmann is the very reason he’s so attractive in the first place. He’s one of the best performing managers in Europe right now. Even if Leipzig are knocked out of the Champions League, Nagelsmann still has a Bundesliga title race to contend. If Spurs want him, or any club, they will probably have to wait until the summer.


The Wildcard – Nuno Espírito Santo


As reported by Anna Dugdale on this website last week, Nuno is looking to be on his last legs at Wolves. Despite the fact that Wolves have been woeful at points this season, Nuno should not be written off as a manager if he is sacked. His brand of football established Wolves as a strong Premier League team and could do wonderful things at Spurs.


Santo would be following in the footsteps of one of his most trusted players in a move to Spurs, in Matt Doherty, and in a similar way to Nagelsmann, it is Doherty and Reguilón who would benefit most from Nuno’s appointment. With the pair of the bombarding the wings, Son would naturally play the Diogo Jota/Pedro Neto role, channelling his goalscoring talents demonstrated at the beginning of the season.


The problem with a Nuno appointment is that the Tottenham squad as it stands is not a good fit for his preferred 3-5-2. If hired, he would certainly need another centre-back, maybe even two. That extra cost may put Daniel Levy off the prospect of Espírito-Santo entirely, which would be a shame, and not just for Matt Doherty.