Exclusive: Pochettino ‘well ahead of Tuchel’ on Tottenham next manager shortlist, with Levy stance on reunion revealed
Daniel Levy will “inevitably” be considering who Tottenham could appoint as their next manager, Ben Jacobs has told TEAMtalk, with Mauricio Pochettino in the running for a second spell at the club.
Antonio Conte is currently under some pressure as Tottenham head coach as his contract approaches its expiry. Spurs have recently been eliminated from the Champions League and the FA Cup, meaning their trophy drought is continuing.
Not everyone seems to be on side with Conte, who might have been questioning his own future anyway.
In the first part of an exclusive with TEAMtalk, Ben Jacobs has shared that it is “almost certain” Conte will leave Tottenham if he fails to guide them to a top-four finish.
Now, in the second part, Jacobs has shed some light on where Tottenham might turn if Conte does leave.
Jacobs explained: “In terms of replacements, even though it becomes a little bit disrespectful, talking about who might come in before the manager has departed, that’s just football and Daniel Levy is a planner so he will inevitably be thinking about a scenario where Conte isn’t at the football club.
“A Mauricio Pochettino return, I have reported many times, is very possible. Daniel Levy and Pochettino retain a very strong relationship on both a professional and personal level.
“And Pochettino as I understand it is biding his time, and he’s open to a Tottenham return, and Daniel Levy would be quite prepared to bring him back as well. So that would require wider club buy-in and Tottenham won’t only look at one candidate, but there’s a very realistic possibility if a vacancy emerges at Tottenham that Pochettino could come back.”
READ MORE: Tottenham firm up summer plans for £40m defender they’ll move for irrespective of Conte future
Pochettino hesitation over Chelsea offers clue
Pochettino, of course, previously led Tottenham between 2014 and 2019. Since his sacking, he has had a spell with Paris Saint-Germain, but is unattached at present.
Chelsea were linked with Pochettino when they got rid of Thomas Tuchel in September, but the Argentine tactician was not particularly keen – and Jacobs has explained why.
The journalist continued: “And I think that from Pochettino’s perspective, he wasn’t really that intent on joining anyone mid-season.
“And he wasn’t overly sold when he did hold a conversation with Chelsea over the course of the September period, after Thomas Tuchel was sacked. He wasn’t overly invested in the vision. And that’s not because Chelsea were not ambitious, and didn’t pitch it to him in alluring ways. It’s more because Pochettino’s come off the back of PSG, big squad, difficult hierarchy to work with, a lot of stars in the dressing room. And I think that he wants his next role to have that control on the football side and also strong input on the recruitment side.
“And if you look at Antonio Conte, and Tottenham, he’s probably in that summer window at least been given more control than most Spurs managers under Daniel Levy, and I always turn to Ivan Perisic, as an example of that, because of the age and, you know, the profile. I think that was a very Conte-like signing, not a Levy or Spurs-like signing, which tells you again that off the back of Champions League football, Antonio Conte had that control.
“So obviously, the only thing with Pochettino is what that dynamic would be like with Paratici. And I still think there’s a question mark there. But you know, generally within Tottenham, there’s plenty of senior people that would have pushback. And there’s also a desire from Poch if an offer was tabled to very strongly consider it, but there would still just be those finer points of discussion about how he fits into the current recruitment model, what kind of autonomy he would get. But that one’s a very realistic possibility.
“And as I say, with Chelsea, they are backing Potter. They’ve got faith in Potter now, the form has turned around, but when things were not going as well at Chelsea, they hadn’t reached out to Pochettino. They hadn’t tried to get Pochettino mid-season. The conversations between Chelsea and Pochettino had happened when there was an actual vacancy before Graham Potter and Potter was the number one choice but Pochettino was considered. And my understanding is that Pochettino just wasn’t overly sold on the vision. So he’d need his mind changing.
“So if a vacancy comes up at Spurs I think Pochettino is one to watch.”
Tuchel unlikely to become next Tottenham manager
As Jacobs referenced, Tottenham will have more than one candidate to succeed Conte. Exploring some of the other options, two current Premier League bosses have been given a namecheck.
However, former Chelsea manager Tuchel – despite being available still – might not be as likely an appointment as some may believe.
Jacobs added: “I think there’ll be other candidates so wouldn’t be ruling out the likes of Thomas Frank and Roberto De Zerbi, he’s done well at Brighton but it might be too soon for him to be considering another role especially if Brighton get European football, but Thomas Tuchel is less likely. I don’t think it’s the right fit.
“Everyone needs to understand a bit more context here, because Spurs are a great club, Tuchel’s a great manager, why wouldn’t a great manager be a great fit for a great club? And the answer is really, because Tottenham are looking for someone that again, fits seamlessly into the model, understands the culture of the club, and is the right personality and strategic fit, as well as the right football fit. So if we’re only judging, based upon a football fit, Tuchel’s a top coach, but Tottenham are looking for somebody that is the right mix for where their whole project is moving, which means that you’ve got to tick a box as a good coach as a good strategic fit, as a good personality fit and as a good brand fit and that is the modern manager that Tottenham are looking for and that Chelsea were looking for in Graham Potter.
“I don’t think that Tuchel will be a leading contender from Spurs’ point of view or be as open as some are perhaps suggesting to the Tottenham role. So it’s not a case of Tuchel or Pochettino. It’s a case of if a vacancy arises, Tottenham drawing up a long list of which I think Pochettino would be well ahead of Tuchel, but I think there’ll be other names mentioned as well.
“I mean, let’s not forget Luis Enrique is available in the market and looking to get back into management as well. And I think there’ll be a number of elite level clubs with Champions League that will consider him as well. So it’s an interesting one.
“But for now, let’s just see whether Antonio Conte gets the rest of the season and if he can get Tottenham into a top-four finish, because if he does that, everything looks a whole lot different in terms of mood at Spurs.”
In other Tottenham news, the club have reportedly decided on a £67m Man Utd target as the ‘ideal’ signing to replace a fallen star and begin another new era.