You have to hand it to Tottenham. While they certainly haven’t come anywhere close to curing their basketcase ways, they’ve at least learned to shroud it in bigger happenings in the soccer world to avoid attention. When they fired Jose Mourinho, essentially admitting to and correcting a gargantuan mistake all at once, a decision made just the season before, they did it when the Super League was living its butterfly-length life. Ok, they were also involved in that, but at least they got to share that with other clubs that had lost their moral and sensical compass.
These days, Spurs have used the cover of Euro 2020 to divert most eyes from what is possibly the most Spurs-y summer in recent memory, if not ever. You see, they still haven’t replaced Mourinho as manager, and their search has been somewhere around the fish-slapping sketch on the scale of normality. In fact, that might have been their interview process.
At first, it started out with such hope. Rumors were flying that not only did Spurs want to bring Mauricio Pochettino back home, but he was keen to leave PSG behind to do so. Rarely do things work out when managers or players return to a club they’d left, but at the very least Tottenham could have counted on pleasurable football to watch and play, the approval of players (including perhaps one in particular, but we’ll get to him in a sec), and even just a temporary lifting of spirits. But that fizzled after a short while, either because Spurs didn’t want to meet whatever the buyout would have been for Pochettino’s contract, or because Poch didn’t really want to leave PSG, depending on who you believe.
Next it was Antonio Conte, who had just guided Inter to the Serie A title and then fell out with ownership over their demands of slashing the wage bill and playing staff due to financial troubles. Conte is clearly a pain in the ass to work with, given how short his stays are at every job, but he gets results, as his drawer full of championship medals in Italy and England would attest. Maybe the hiring and system wouldn’t be as romantic as a Pochettino return (though Inter played some pretty spicy stuff last season under Conte), but the impact could have been even greater.
But this is Tottenham, you goober, and talks with Conte fell apart over differing visions for the club, i.e. the players Conte wanted and the money he needed for them. This might become a theme.
So then Spurs turned their view to Paulo Fonseca, recently fired by Roma who hired Mourinho to replace him, which isn’t the best start. Fonseca had guided Roma to 5th- and 7th-place finishes in Italy, as well as a Europa League semi, which doesn’t really engender fans to sing proudly so much as make the sound of giving the OK to whatever your friends order at a group dinner. But again, talks with Fonseca failed at the final hurdle when it came to how the team would be reconstructed.
So Tottenham stayed in Italy and were in talks with Gennaro Gattuso, who quit as Fiorentina’s manager just 23 days after taking the job, reportedly because of Tottenham’s job. That was after he had been let go by Napoli when they choked away a Champions League spot on the final day of the season, and depriving us of the joy of watching Juventus missing out on the tournament that they had decreed wasn’t good enough for them with that Super League what-have-ya (it all comes full circle).
Gattuso’s managerial career is a lot like Conte’s, except without any of the results. He is an incredible pain in the ass, as he was as a player, and burns out everyone around him quickly. Except he doesn’t win anything. This is it in a nutshell.
(I’ll use any excuse I can to post this video)
Not only did Gattuso’s underwhelming record have every supporter on edge, but he’s repped by superagent Jorge Mendes, with the fear being that Spurs would simply bend over backwards for the duo which would lead to a host of Mendes clients being signed for Spurs simply because they were Mendes clients. Spurs only needed to look across North London to see how destructive it can be to a club to have a superagent have a hold over it and use it as a safe haven for clients. You’d think Spurs would avoid doing anything Arsenal might have done, but those rules go out the window when both clubs have been drained of all brainal fluid.
Much like the Super League, the Spurs supporters were so against the possible hiring of Gattuso that the backlash to it caused the Tottenham front office to run from it like gazelles from a lion.
Which leaves Tottenham back where they started, but somehow looking more inept and having chased off a couple of viable candidates and a couple of cartoonishly not viable ones. Whatever viable ones might be out there are not exactly going to be sprinting to deal with this kind of club run this way, either.
All of that leaves Spurs in an even more awkward position with their most important player, which would have seemed impossible a month and a half ago when Harry Kane reportedly first asked out. Rumors yesterday swirled that Man City were loading up a ￡100 million plus players in a bid for Kane, though they haven’t officially done so yet. But player swaps are quite rare, especially of this magnitude, and that’s caused Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy to reportedly hold out for ￡150 million for Kane, which he probably isn’t going to get. Man United and Chelsea are also waiting around to see what develops. What is clear is just why Kane’s had enough of this shit.
So whatever manager Tottenham can find will either have a very disgruntled centerpiece in Kane to deal with, or a rather big bag of cash but unclear on how much of that can be spent on replacements but a team with no focal point (and you can never really replace a player like Kane), or a slightly smaller bag of cash, players swapped in return who don’t really want to be there and still not focal point. And woe to anyone if Heung-min Son decides he’s better off elsewhere as well, which he probably should.
It’s beginning to feel like those five years of Spurs’ competence and even excellence were just some mass hallucination that we all just agreed was real. This definitely feels more like how things are supposed to be.