Managerial Shenanegans at the Lane (again)

In the frame

After the well-thought out (sarcasm), yet utterly deserved sacking of Glenn Hoddle, Spurs are once again on the hunt for a new manager. David Pleat filled the gap rather dismally for eight months and after the appointment of Frank Arnesen as sporting director, and the shipping out of Pleat, Spurs fans are dreaming of a revitalized campaign next season.

Arnesen will be responsible, in consultation with the coach, for recruiting players using his extensive network of contacts across Europe. To that end, it is crucial that he is chiefly responsible for identifying the man whom he must share a similar philosophy and ambition.

So let us take a look at those in the frame (just like I did back in 2001, when I said about Hoddle ‘Still has not really achieved at the highest level so Spurs would have to be his catapult to success if he comes’).

Raddy Antic (un-attached)

55-year-old, Serbian-born Antic was in charge of Celta Vigo this season, and not doing a particularly good job when we last checked. The club was in free-fall at the time but he was unable to alter the tide and eventually quit. He led Barcelona from the lower reaches of La Liga to a European place in 2003 and was most successful in charge of Athletico Madrid in the mid-nineties where he won a league/cup double. But he’s jumped around numerous clubs – Real Oviedo, Real Madrid, Real Zaragoza, Partizan Belgrade – including two stints with Oviedo and Athletico.

Pros Has tasted success in La Liga.

Cons Little consistency to his managerial career and hard to put your finger on one outstanding quality.

Chances After his disastrous reign at Vigo, Antic would need a serious lack of interest on behalf of other parties to get this job. If David Pleat was still in vogue at Spurs there might be a chance but you can consider it to be virtually zero now.

Alan Curbishley (Charlton Manager)

The record for “the number of jobs being linked to while in charge of another club” must belong to Curbishley. Currently a target for Liverpool, Curbs has been linked frequently with the Spurs post. He joined Charlton in 1991 where he co-managed with Steve Gritt. He took sole charge in 1995 and has steered Charlton in to the top half of the Premiership where they this season finished 7th. At this point it looks like he has brought Charlton as far as he can – a remarkable achievement in its own right.

Pros With little money, has used smart managerial nous to keep Charlton safe in the Premiership.

Cons The big club move might be beyond Curbishley – but he won’t know until he tries it.

Chances Not all that bad it would seem. He is seen as a serious manager who has gained the respect of his peers for his achievements at Charlton. He might see Spurs as something of a poisoned chalice though and might prefer a more suitable job – perhaps Newcastle or the Anfield job.

Gerard Houllier (Liverpool Manager)

It seems Monsieur Houllier is about to be cut loose at Anfield after a second season of underachievement. Living on the memory of the somewhat fortunate cup treble in 2001, the board’s patience has somewhat run out and there is little faith in a transfer policy that has reaped little from the huge investment in Heskey, Cheryou, Diao and Diouf. For example, Nicolas Anelka was released after coming in on loan in 2002. He subsequently scored 25 goals for struggling Manchester City while Houllier’s preferred choice, Emile Heskey (since shipped off to Birmingham), scored 12.

He is said to be flattered at a link to Spurs and if he fancies staying coaching in England, and working under someone with the reputation of Arnesen, you never know.

Pros Knows the English game, has unflinching support for his players and belief in himself

Cons Series of bad purchases, holds grudges, has under-achieved at Liverpool

Chances Probably not that great. His health is in question, his popularity with fans at Liverpool is not high and he might consider coaching another English club a betrayal of those fans that do still support him.

Mark Hughes (Wales Manager)

Just like his appointment with Wales, giving the job to Mark Hughes would be something of a shock. A terrific footballer with Manchester United, Barcelona and Chelsea (and forgotten years with Bayern Munich, Southampton, Everton and Blackburn!), he was given the job that no one except Bobby Gould seemed to want. And what a job he did. Leading Wales to within a play-off (and failed appeal) of Euro 2004 was far beyond what was expected of his squad, largely made up of workman-like and lower-division players – and of course, John Hartson. Hughes has been mentioned alongside Giovanni Trapattoni as a member of a sort of “Dream Team”. God knows how that would work out, but it’s clear that the board are high on the Welshman.

Pros Well respected pro who has done a great job in international football.

Cons No club management experience so it’s unknown how he would deal with big-name players, transfer budgets, day-to-day coaching and all the ins and outs of the job.

Chances Despite the lack of experience, Hughes’ chances are quite strong. He might see a job like Spurs as a stepping-stone to taking over at Old Trafford one day.

Martin Jol (RKC Waalwijk Manager)

Who? Well, quite. Unless you’re Dutch you’re not likely to have heard much about Jol. His playing career included Coventry, West Brom, 3 caps for Holland and he has been manager of Eredivisie side RKC Waalwijk since 1998. The 48-year-old is highly regarded after consistently bringing Waalwijk to the brink of European football with no budget and no ‘name’ players. While he is expected to go to Feyenoord, he might be intrigued at the prospect of managing a Premiership side and working under the former PSV stalwart, Arnesen.

Pros Good reputation, admirable achievements in the Dutch first division.

Cons The Netherlands equivalent of Alan Curbishley – without the Premiership experience. Never dealt with big name players.

Chances Fair. Although not first choice, he is probably one of the managers under consideration by Arnesen. He leaves Waalwijk this summer although his destination is unknown.

Martin O’Neill (Celtic Manager)

Long sought-after for the Tottenham post, Martin O’Neill’s remarkable managerial record is worth a perusal once again. O’Neill, a Northern Ireland international, was an integral part of the Nottingham Forest side of the 70s and early 80s. As a manager, he won the Football Conference with Wycombe in 1993 and followed it with a second promotion to Division Two in 1994. He moved to Norwich for six months, leaving after a dispute with Chairman Richard Chase. His next destination, Leicester, saw him survive calls for his head in his first season and then guide the team to the Premiership via the play offs in 1996. In the Premiership they never finished in the lower half under O’Neill and he won the league cup twice, reaching the final a third time. At Celtic they have run away with the league on three occasions and the season they lost it to Rangers it was by a single goal on the last day. O’Neill has also led the club to the several domestic cup triumphs, a UEFA Cup final in 2003 and unforgettable Eueopean nights against Ajax, Porto, Lyon, Celta Vigo, Barcelona, Liverpool and Juventus.

Pros Has improved every club he’s managed. One of the most highly-rated coaches in Europe. Intelligent and charismatic and a great supporter and believer in himself and his players.

Cons Perhaps his lack of “big club” experience. Although Celtic are a big club, they play in a poor league and are not full of egotistical superstars

Chances No doubt that he is number one choice but he doesn’t seem interested.

Carlos Queiroz (Read Madrid Manager)

It all started so well for Carlos, surprisingly plucked from the assistant managers position at Manchester United to replace Vincent Del Bosque last summer. The team was flying through La Liga and new signing David Beckham was playing the best football of his career. But after four defeats on the trot, the trophy cabinet empty, embarrassingly dumped out of the Champions League by on-loan signing Fernando Morientes and Monaco, Carlos is on his way out. It’s likely he’ll return to Manchester United or perhaps view other possibilities at Champions League teams like Porto or Liverpool, but since these jobs are not yet available, Queiroz might instruct his agent to test the waters.

Pros Successful with Portuguese under-age teams and largely speaking has been credited with bringing through the outstanding national team of the nineties. His work with Manchester United was praised by all at Old Trafford and noticeably the team suffered in his absence.

Cons He’s got no links to Tottenham and probably considers himself beyond struggling in the middle of the table (if he’s lucky).

Chances Probably very slim. Not sure Spurs have seen enough from him as a first-team coach to be impressed enough to take a chance, and not sure Queiroz would have the interest anyway.

Peter Taylor (Hull City Manager)

Taylor is best known for his hand in destroying the legacy of Martin O’Neill at Leicester. Within twelve months of replacing the Irishman he brought Leicester down to division one and oversaw transfer flops like Gary Rowett, Trevor Benjamin, Matt Jones, Junior Lewis, and most criminally of all, the £5m paid for Ade Akinbiyi. But good management is more the norm for Taylor and people forget the success of his run at Gillingham prior to his move to Filbert Street, his work with the England U21, and subsequent promotions with Brighton and Hull in Division Three. Taylor is a former Tottenham player from the 1970s (155 appearances / 46 goals), and is remembered fondly by fans. Taylor seems more at home in the lower leagues and there would have to be a serious change of mindset for him to consider the step up.

Pros Tottenham past, success with England under-age teams, popular with players.

Cons Desperately poor season with Leicester in the Premiership and still scarred by that.

Chances Not good in the slightest and Spurs would probably be safer steering well clear. It’s possible Taylor could establish himself as a good first division manager but the top league is out of his grasp.

Claudio Ranieri (Chelsea Manager)

The Chelsea sack is only around the corner and it would probably suit Claudio if he could move, metaphorically, just around the corner to take over at Tottenham. After a decent career in Italy and Spain where he won two cups with Fiorentina and a Spanish Cup with Valencia, Ranieri then struggled at Athletico Madrid and left with them staring relegation in the face. He moved to Chelsea and did a solid if unspectacular job with little funds. After finishing sixth in his first two seasons and failing to produce the goods in Europe, his third season saw the club finish fourth ahead of Liverpool and qualify for the Champions League qualifiers. Ramon Abramovich’s arrival at Chelsea in the summer of 2003 saw Ranieri get over £100m to spend and he led the club to the Champions League semi-finals and second place in the league. But Abramovich is said to be frustrated with Ranieri’s rotation policy and thinks that the Italian has taken the club as far as he can.

Pros Has managed big clubs throughout his career. Is very popular with players and fans. Conducts himself well in the media, especially since he managed to learn English quite quickly.

Cons Hasn’t really achieved great things in football despite being in charge of major clubs – no league titles or European trophies. His rotation of players has also frustrated.

Chances Not favourite, but a good bet all the same. Is probably on Spurs top three or four options should the manager be released from Chelsea in the next few weeks.

Jacques Santini (France Manager)

Santini surprisingly spoke up about a month ago to say he would be very interested in the Spurs job. Sounds to me like a touch of leverage in order to get a better contract from the French officials, but you never know. International management differs greatly from club management and some bosses miss the day-to-day graft of the club game. Santini led a demoralized France, humiliated at 2002 World Cup finals, through a 100% qualifying campaign for Euro 2004. However, the FFA have still not offered him a contract extension and his interest in the Spurs job is seen as having one of two motives. Either he wants to pressure the FFA in to showing some commitment, or he is angry enough at their stance to walk away and take a job in the Premiership. He was a successful coach at Lyon, winning a league and cup in each of the two seasons he was there.

Pros Clearly done a great job with France and not suffered fools gladly – shipping out Anelka and Petit when they clashed with him. His club management career is short but successful, Lyon were not a domestic powerhouse when he led them to glory.

Cons Not too much really. He played and managed in France so perhaps the culture shock in London might have an impact.

Chances Nil, probably. He’d be mad to leave the French job, and the French would be mad to let him go. If he did leave, there would probably be better jobs on offer.

Giovanni Trapattoni (Italy Manager)

One of the favourites for the job since late last year is Trapattoni. The veteran Italian boss, who finishes up with the national team this summer, has openly discussed approaches from Tottenham. He is the most decorated of all the contenders – with Juventus in two spells, six league championships, two Italian Cups, one European Cup, and two UEFA Cups; with Inter, one league title, one UEFA Cup; with Bayern Munich, one league title, one German Cup and one German Supercup. He revealed this week, amusingly, that his wife was not impressed with his possibility of moving to England but if there’s enough zeroes before the decimal point, don’t rule anything out.

Pros Hugely successful player and coach in nearly every job he’s been in (exception of Cagliari).

Cons His major successes were a long time ago in the early 80s with Juventus. Like Santini, the British culture may take him a while to acclimatize to.

Chances He reminds you of the Italian Bobby Robson and “The Trap” could be a great choice for Tottenham. Must be one of the favourites.

And finally…

Well if it isn’t “Mr Hypocrite” himself, Roy Keane. In his autobiography (the first autobiography written by someone else), Keane denounces the FA Cup as worthless. He says:

“The FA Cup had lost its relevance, certainly for me. Sure, it was a day out for our families, and everybody who worked hard behind the scenes at the club.  The Wembley myth, the folklore attached to the walk out of the tunnel, the red carpet, meeting the big shots, going up to the Royal Box to receive your medal, a pat on the back from the great and the good (and hopefully the Cup), all of it was bollocks.”

Interestingly he seemed to enjoy winning it on Saturday, giving it a bit kiss before he launched it joyously over his head. What choice did he have? He’s a professional. it’s his job to play the games he’s paid for and make maximum effort. While appreciating that, I find it hugely amusing that his over-inflated ego had suddenly got a dose of reality. You can’t cherry-pick the competitions you win. You win what you deserve and this season Roy Keane deserved just an FA Cup trophy. By association to his own words, this makes him and his club failures.

I wonder what the Irish dressing room – where terrific players like Damien Duff, Kenny Cunningham, Shay Given and Robbie Keane would kill to win an FA Cup – think of this tosser’s opinions.

Get lost, Keane.


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