The post-Jose Mourinho Tottenham era started off positively on Wednesday night as interim head coach Ryan Mason oversaw a 2-1 league win over Southampton to inject some extra confidence into the players for Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Manchester City. Mason, just 29 years old, spoke of his pride of standing in the Spurs dugout and may hope between now and May 23 to prove he can be an option for the position full time. In our latest Big Debate, the Express Sport team sit down to look at who they think chairman Daniel Levy should be eyeing as his next permanent appointment at the end of the season, with Julian Nagelsmann and Brendan Rodgers among the many candidates in the frame.
It’s easy to see why Spurs want Julian Nagelsmann but that seems unrealistic given that he’s Bayern Munich’s top target to replace Hansi Flick.
Outside of that, I think Nuno Espirito Santo would be the perfect fit. There’s a sense he’s taken Wolves as far as he can and ultimately, his journey at Molineux warrants reward.
Nuno has a clear identity and idea, has a track record developing players, a winning mentality and has formed special relationships with the Wolves fans and his squad. He ticks pretty much every box.
Not only that but his relationship with super-agent Jorge Mendes is also an added bonus. It’s the kind of network that would really benefit Tottenham, particularly at this moment in time where there could be wholesale changes at the club.
Brendan Rodgers is of course also a strong option but I don’t think he’s a realistic candidate. He has total control at Leicester and they are a club on the up.
The way things soured for Jose Mourinho at Tottenham should be a surprise to… well, no-one. The mood towards the end was low in the dressing room and on the training ground, just as it was in the final days at Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United. It looked likely for some time that he was going to be axed.
With former academy graduate Mason tasked with restoring some positivity between now and the end of the season, Julian Nagelsmann might just be the perfect man to come in and help restore Spurs as top-four, and then title, challengers again – though the timeline of how quick that happens will depend on what happens with Harry Kane’s future.
Nagelsmann’s only 33 but has a wealth of experience having taken Hoffenheim to finishes of fourth, third and ninth before joining RB Leipzig in the summer of 2019. He led Leipzig to the Champions League semi-finals last term, though lost in the last 16 this year to Liverpool, and has made the Red Bull-owned club the closest Bundesliga challengers to Bayern Munich in the current campaign after coming third in his debut season.
Whereas Mourinho represents the old era, the fresh-faced and innovative German is the new age. Nagelsmann is renowned across the continent for his tactical expertise, scrupulous attention to detail and also his man management. His high-pressing approach is much more akin to Mauricio Pochettino’s ideas than the dull defence-first thinking of Mourinho.
While the door may be open for a tempting summer move to Bayern with Hansi Flick wanting out, Spurs still have plenty they can offer to Nagelsmann – who has precedent for turning down the biggest jobs before having rejected Real Madrid in 2018 to “develop” in his career and take a “logical” next step.
Spurs may not be on a level with Leipzig right now given they likely won’t have Champions League football next year, Nagelsmann could view the north Londoners as the sensible next stepping stone in his journey, given the test of managing in the Premier League and the test of rebuilding the Spurs side.
Spurs showed even under Mourinho that the ingredients are there for an exciting and progressive team, and Nagelsmann would be the ideal man to oversee that development. And appointing such an exciting attack-minded young coach could even more vitally help get Kane – considering an exit this summer in pursuit of major silverware – back on board.
As one of the “Breakaway Six” that attempted to start a European Super League, Tottenham could really do with a bit of positive PR, and the appointment of the right manager would be just the ticket for Daniel Levy and co. at the top of the club.
Julian Nagelsmann should be Tottenham’s first-choice candidate but it remains to be seen whether RB Leipzig would entertain the idea of letting him go.
He is under contract until the summer of 2023 and has previously underlined his commitment to seeing out the entirety of his deal with the Bundesliga hopefuls.
If Daniel Levy is prepared to part ways with a significant amount of money, the 33-year-old, who has proven himself as one of Europe’s best young managers, could be the man to lead Spurs to the next level.
However, in the event that Leipzig refuse to budge, the north London club could do worse than to appoint temporary boss Ryan Mason on a permanent basis.
Although it is still very early days, the players appear to be enthusiastic about the former midfielder’s willingness to implement an attacking-minded philosophy, and if he can save the club’s season by winning Sunday’s Carabao Cup final there is a chance that Levy could decide to offer him a chance to make a name for himself with the full-time job.
News that Tottenham have already made contact with Maurizio Sarri about the vacant manager’s job is no surprise.
He has a lot of what they though Jose Mourinho would bring them and has some qualities which will make him more palatable both in the boardroom and in the stands of the giant White Hart Lane arena.
For a start, Sarri-ball is more forward-thinking than Mourinho’s unpopular park-the-bus approach.
His honours list is not as impressive, but he has won things – the Europa League and Serie A.
And he will be much, much cheaper than the Special One.
Julian Nagelsmann is another name on the list, as is Brendan Rodgers. Levy needs an exciting and big enough name to persuade Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min to be patient at the club for just one year more.
All of which means that for Ryan Mason, it is all too much too early, however well he does.
Who are the options for Spurs?
Tottenham have been linked with a whole host of names since axing Mourinho, with the bookmakers’ current favourite Maurizio Sarri, the former Chelsea, Juventus and Napoli head coach.
The actual chances of the Italian rocking up at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium to take over are unclear as it stands.
Nagelsmann is a popular candidate, though that depends on how much it would take to prise him from RB Leipzig – Bayern Munich are also a threat given they admire the German.
Brendan Rodgers of Leicester is widely admired at Spurs but the ex-Liverpool head coach is fully committed to his project with the Foxes.
Ajax’s Erik ten Hag and Brighton’s Graham Potter are other options who fit the profile Spurs want, per Football.London.
Massimiliano Allegri, the out-of-work ex-Juve boss, is another potential contender though he is not quite the same mould of the aforementioned quartet.