Wanted: A manager to end Tottenham's long trophy drought

The club's board will begin the search for a fourth permanent manager since Pochettino left in 2019. Here are some of the potential options

By AP

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Brighton & Hove Albion manager Roberto De Zerbi. — Reuters
Brighton & Hove Albion manager Roberto De Zerbi. — Reuters

Published: Mon 27 Mar 2023, 5:23 PM

There’s the romanticism of a return for Mauricio Pochettino. The intrigue of the possible arrival of Julian Nagelsmann. Maybe even an audacious attempt to lure the Premier League’s “Next Big Thing” — Roberto De Zerbi to end Tottenham's long wait for a trophy.

For now, though, Tottenham — in a state of flux after the departure of Antonio Conte — will be led until the end of the season, at least, by Cristian Stellini, a long-time No. 2 now going it alone for what is set to be a demanding couple of months as the team looks to secure Champions League qualification.


Most football fans knew all about Conte, the serial winner — at least before he arrived at Tottenham — known to eventually combust, pretty much as he did a week ago in a rant that marked the beginning of the end of his time in north London.

Fewer will have heard of Stellini, who has been Conte’s assistant for much of the past 13 years and has a football background just as interesting as the man he has loyally served until now.


The 48-year-old Stellini has been thrust into the limelight intermittently in recent months while leading Tottenham for certain matches in place of Conte, who had to step away briefly because of either suspension or for health reasons.

He has done a good job, too, notably gaining wins at Marseille in November to secure advancement in the Champions League and against both Manchester City and Chelsea in the Premier League in February.

Still, Stellini is very much Conte’s man, which makes it all the more unexpected that he is still at Tottenham following the latest managerial change at a club without a major trophy since 2008.

He takes the helm with Tottenham occupying the fourth and final Champions League qualification spot, but under real threat by the teams below.

Tottenham's recent form has been concerning, too, with the team having won just one of its last five games in all competitions.

Stellini has to shore things up for the Premier League's final stretch, starting for Tottenham with a match at Everton on April 3.

In the meantime, the club's board will begin the search for a fourth permanent manager since Pochettino left in 2019. Here are some of the potential options:

MAURICIO POCHETTINO

Pochettino was fired by Tottenham when the team's fortunes declined following its remarkable rise capped by an unlikely appearance in the Champions League final in 2019. Pochettino's magic had worn off after 5 1/2 years at the club but, after a four-year break, he would return energised. The fans would certainly like it, though chairman Daniel Levy might have moved on. Pochettino has been without a job since leaving Paris Saint-Germain in July.

JULIAN NAGELSMANN

The 35-year-old Nagelsmann is available after being fired by Bayern Munich on Friday. He is young and ambitious and might have his eye on bigger jobs, potentially Real Madrid if Carlo Ancelotti leaves at the end of the season. It would be a reversal of policy, with Tottenham coming off hiring Jose Mourinho and Conte — experienced managers who were a supposed guarantee of trophies. That didn't happen and bringing in Nagelsmann would represent a breath of fresh air, akin to Pochettino when he joined in 2014.

ROBERTO DE ZERBI

De Zerbi, an Italian like Conte, has taken Brighton to new levels since joining as a replacement for Graham Potter in September. The team has lost just one of its last 13 games after adapting to De Zerbi's bold playing style and is in a good position to qualify for Europe for the first time. A sharp tactician, De Zerbi is unlikely to be short of offers in the coming years so Tottenham could get in first by making an aggressive appointment.

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