Tottenham Hotspur have compiled a shortlist of candidates to replace Antonio Conte as their next permanent head coach.
Chairman Daniel Levy has tasked Fabio Paratici, his under-fire football chief executive, with drawing up a list of suitable opportunities for the role should Conte depart, which now seems inevitable.
At the helm is likely to be Luis Enrique, the former Barcelona and Spain coach whom Paratici has long admired. The plan is that Paratici will work on the list for Levy this month.
Tottenham are keen to get their succession planning right and avoid a repeat of the awkward summer of 2021.
After sacking Jose Mourinho in April, it took them 10 weeks to find his replacement, failed to land Hansi Flick, their former manager Mauricio Pochettino or Conte and eventually had to appoint Nuno Espirito Santo on a two-year deal just before the players returned preseason. Nuno lasted 10 league games before Conte was eventually persuaded to replace him.
The difference between then and now is that Tottenham still have a head coach in charge.
However, Conte looked miserable after Wednesday night’s Champions League round of 16 defeat by AC Milan and even admitted in an interview with Italian broadcaster that Spurs could “get rid of” him before the end of the season. With his contract expiring on 30 June and talks of an extension dead, he has at most 12 games left before leaving the north London club.
Even if many Spurs fans audibly opposed Conte’s decisions during the game on Wednesday, he remains in charge for the time being. The 11 players who started against Milan came to recover today while the rest of the first team had a normal training session.
Conte will be at his press conference on Friday midday ahead of Saturday’s league home game against Nottingham Forest. If Spurs lose that and Liverpool beat bottom Bournemouth in Saturday’s early kick-off, Jurgen Klopp’s men will overtake them in fourth place.
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Luis Enrique is greatly admired by Fabio Paratici (Picture: Stu Forster/Getty Images)
But even if these are the final days of Conte’s tenure, the club are determined to have a plan for the future. Levy wants Paratici to oversee the process of finding Conte’s replacement, just as he did when appointing Nuno. (Conte’s attitude was driven by Levy himself rather than Paratici.)
This is a sign of the Chair’s support for Paratici, whose position has come under intense scrutiny in recent months. Paratici was handed a 30-month ban from Italian football in January following an investigation into accounting practices at former club Juventus during his tenure, which Paratici appealed. But the 50-year-old still holds a high profile at Spurs and is popular with staff and players alike.
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Perhaps at the top of Paratici’s list is Luis Enrique, a coach he has greatly admired for years. The Spaniard is best known for his three seasons in charge of Barcelona, from 2014 to 2017. He built a team with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar as the top three, all sweeping in front of him and in his first Season treble won – the last time Barcelona won the Champions League. They also won the European Super Cup and the Club World Cup, and retained the La Liga title the following year.
Luis Enrique then took over the Spain national team and led them to the semi-finals of the 2021 European Championship, where they were eliminated on penalties before being eliminated again on penalties in the round of 16 of last year’s World Cup to Morocco. After this defeat he resigned from his post.
Also on Paratici’s list is likely to be Oliver Glasner, the Austrian who won the 2021-22 Europa League with Eintracht Frankfurt. Paratici is also a great admirer of the work of Ruben Amorim, the Sporting Lisbon manager who won the club’s first Portuguese league title in 19 years two years ago, and Luciano Spalletti, who is on the verge of helping Napoli into the inaugural Serie A lead title in 33 years.
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Eintracht Frankfurt head coach Oliver Glasner is admired at Tottenham (Photo: Cathrin Mueller/Getty Images)
Of course, there’s no guarantee the job will go to anyone on their original list, as Spurs found out when they tried to replace Mourinho two years ago. Her early competitors then included Flick, Erik ten Hag, Graham Potter, Roberto Martinez and Ralf Rangnick.
Many fans will be wondering where in Spurs’ minds former boss Pochettino, who is currently clubless after being sacked by Paris Saint-Germain at the end of last season, is.
It’s unlikely that he’s one of Paraticis’ preferred candidates for the role for the reasons outlined the athlete earlier this week.
Tottenham have not come forward regarding the imminent vacancy, but it was the Argentine’s name that some fans chanted as they left the stadium in the rain last night after watching their team limp out of the Champions League.
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(Photo above: Clive Rose/Getty Images)