Just think of a couple of recent Tottenham managers to understand how abruptly the club is changing course with the appointment of Ange Postekoglou as head coach. Spurs’ last full-time manager was Antonio Conte, the Italian taking charge of the Londoners in November 2021.
Levy’s strategy in recent years is to attract the best proven
Antonio had a nearly perfect managerial resume: five league titles at three different clubs, all in crisis before his arrival. Conte has become one of the best managers in Serie A, but he also won in England with Chelsea. Antonio is the last manager in the Premier League not named Pep Guardiola or Jurgen Klopp, which he did not hesitate to mention once again.
Fast forward two more years, when Tottenham Hotspur appointed José Mourinho in November 2019. The Portuguese also landed in London with a potent resume: eight La Liga titles at four different clubs, plus one UEFA Cup, one Europa League, several cups and, most importantly, two Champions League wins with Porto and Inter. “. He won national titles in four different countries, but the most productive “special” was in England: he has three titles with Chelsea in two visits to Stamford Bridge.
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Yes, between Mourinho and Conte, Tottenham managed to sign Nuno Espirita Santo in June 2021, but only after negotiations with the coaches of a long list of more successful candidates, including Antonio himself, failed. True, Nuno spent just 10 league games as Spurs’ head coach.
In general, the course of Daniel Levy was clearly visible – Tottenham entered the elite market – the most titled, well-known and highly paid coaches. And every time for the club it all ended with a huge waste of time, money and energy.
Why Tottenham named an unnamed
Tottenham Hotspur have signed Postecoglou, and the appointment will mark a powerful turnaround. Angers have a good resume: they won the title in Australia with two different teams, took home the trophy in Japan’s J-League and were Scottish champions twice with Celtic. It is unlikely that he could have done better at the clubs he was signed to, but he never worked in England or in one of Europe’s top five leagues. Mourinho and Conte arrived at Tottenham after more than a decade at the highest level. Postekoglu, at 57, had yet to prove himself in the elite.
Photo: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
But such an investment from Tottenham is exactly what the fans were asking for. Attempts to hire a coach with a big name did not bring success to the club. Both Mourinho and Conte came across as slightly arrogant snobs, agreeing to be demoted and doing the team a favour. According to The Athletic, this has led to strained relations with staff, players and fans. Now we can say with confidence that such a recipe is not suitable for the harmonious development of a club like Spurs. No one on the team wants a repeat of the last four years.
That’s why Tottenham decided to change: the North Londoners lost their identity and originality. The Club has always felt nostalgic for Mauricio Pochettino’s period of work, when everyone in the structure worked in the same direction, the team shared common ambitions.
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It is to that “normality” that the Spurs want to return, to a clear and understandable strategy, the fruits of which can be seen from the children’s squads to the first team. The club understands that such influence can only come from a person in the post of head coach – it is he who will be able to infect the players with a common idea and rally fans around it. In other words, the coach must become the face of the club.
Who is Postecoglu and how does it work?
And in this sense, Postekoglu seems to be one of the best candidates. His Celtic play great football: the club not only wins, but does so with style and assertiveness. Even more of the ethnic Greek is the determination to become the main public face of the club, something like what Klopp is to Liverpool: not just a mercenary, but a part of the DNA. Celtic is about working under the highest pressure, relationships with a huge fan base and demands that cannot be met by winning alone. When the Greek took over the club in 2021, fans had doubts about the scale of Angers’ personality. Two years later they disappeared.
At Celtic, Postecoglu has shown an eloquence that returns the parallelism with the Liverpool coach. All fans of the Glasgow club remember the phrase from his interview in February 2022 well after the 3-0 victory over Rangers.
still Celtic’s head coach
“I told the players that today we have 60,000 viewers and I am sure that many of them are going through difficulties in life. In 95 minutes of a match, we can help them forget their problems and feel good, which is something special.”
A few days later, Angers was asked to expand on this thought in a pre-match press conference: “I am not just a football club manager, I am responsible for everything that embodies it. It is important to me that the people who really invest in the club, and these are the fans, believe in me first and foremost as a person. When people believe in your personality, you are more likely to set global goals.”
This response is the essence of Postecoglou’s attraction. It’s not just about him being nice and eloquent, it’s not about how smart he is (which is part of the reason his interviews are so popular). The fact is that he understands the power of words. He knows that no coach will achieve anything without the support of the players and the fans, and he understands how important it is to be in tune with everyone around the team.
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Since Pochettino, Tottenham have not had a manager interested in this side of the job. None of the Mourinho-Conte-Nunu trio made a special effort to connect with the fans and speak their language. If Postecoglu comes to the team and finds the same pain points he did in his first season at Celtic, that precious sense of community could start to return.
What to expect from the Spurs this season
All of this doesn’t make sense in isolation from football, but even here Postecoglu has something to offer. He won everywhere he worked, and a couple of days ago his Celtic took the home treble for the eighth time in the club’s history. The Scots did it thanks to a 4-3-3 game, always focused on expressive football, attacking, dominating the opponent and creating scoring chances. The fact that Brighton were interested in Postecoglou in September after the loss of Potter says a lot.
Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Two years ago, following Mourinho’s sacking, Daniel Levy promised that Tottenham’s next manager would fit into the club’s DNA. The official spoke about “free, offensive and spectacular” football and the development of young players. Obviously, something went wrong: Spurs signed Nuno, and five months later they signed Conte. If Postecoglou gets the job, the North Londoners will finally have a manager who plays in a way that appeals to the fans. After nearly four years of boring football in an innovative new stadium, this may seem like a breath of fresh air.
Of course, there’s no guarantee that Postecoglu will do well in his new role; it’s obvious to everyone how much hard work the new Spurs coach will have to do. He will need to revive the confidence of the players, reignite the fans, start a generational change in the squad and try to bring the club back to Europe. Given the state Tottenham find themselves in, any appointment would be risky, and we know from Mourinho and Conte that even big winners are no guarantee of anything.
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But if you look at the entire period of Levy’s reign at Tottenham, you can notice that sometimes the most obscure candidates for the post of club manager became the most successful, and the coaches that Daniel deliberately persecuted often turned out to be losers. Not only Mourinho and Conte, but also Juande Ramos, André Villas-Boas. None of them lived up to his high-profile reputation at White Hart Lane or the club’s new stadium.
Far more successful were Martin Yol and Harry Redknapp, who was appointed in a panic after a disastrous start to the 2008/2009 season. And even Pochettino, the best manager of the Levy era, came to the club in 2014 after Spurs lost Louis van Gaal. It turned out that these three had a better understanding of Tottenham, the fans and internal processes than their more publicized counterparts. Spurs fans have reason to be optimistic: Postecoglou may very well follow in the footsteps of his successful predecessors.