European football has declined Tottenham Hotspur’s advances this season. although to be fair to her, this wasn’t a particularly smooth approach. Spurs had a drink in one hand and the other was gripped into a thumbs-up gesture.
The angst of the not-very-near miss has been rubbed in Daniel Levy’s face by José Mourinho’s apparent indefatigability in UEFA competitions. After being sacked by Spurs a mere 6 days before a domestic cup final, the Special One resisted a period of wound-licking and got straight back into the saddle with Italian side Roma. Mourinho won the newly launched Europa Conference League. Last week the Portuguese officially raised his game by qualifying for the Europa League final, against Sevilla which will be played at Budapest’s Puskás Aréna, at the very end of May.
The summer months should be a time for reflection and preparation for Levy, Tottenham’s most well-known board member; perhaps mixed with some downtime at his preferred tables at the casino where traditionally, successful people relax whilst keeping their minds occupied. Given the way this season has unfolded in North London, the ambitious CEO will have to get his house in order before he can consider anything approaching some quality time to himself.
Ryan Mason is at the tail end of a tumultuous season, which saw Antonio Conte blow up in front of the world’s press after another gutless performance – this time at St. Mary’s where bottom-of-the-table Southampton – who came back from being two goals down to secure a 3-3 draw. Conte flew to Italy and as THFC scrambled to make sense of the situation, they compounded the chaos by appointing Cristian Stellini. Within a few games, it was evident another, final flip-flop was required, but Mason’s win rate was terrible and his chances of securing the position he made no secret of coveting, are in tatters.
The pursuit of candidates for the head coach role has, to date, been unedifying. Julian Nagelsman was presumed to be the number-one choice, after his sacking from Bundesliga giants FC Bayern Munich. After a month of speculation, Tottenham messaged its press contacts, announcing that the German wasn’t what they were looking for. This unexpectedly backfired when a number of press outlets questioned if the North London side were actually in a position to find fault with such a respected name. It was also suggested by informed commentators as Fabrizio Romano, that Spurs had been in extensive discussions with Nagelsmann, but he was suspicious of the transparency and willingness to provide written assurances in respect of transfers.
What Levy does next is primed to be one of the footballing stories of the summer. The real story here is that ENIC now has a very clear responsibility to make meaningful changes to the manner in which the club does business. In recent years, this position has been somewhat of a poisoned chalice in recent years and Spurs. Current interim coach Ryan Mason, who will take Spurs to Elland Road for their last game of the season, is currently in his second spell as the stand-in man, as he was first needed after serial winner José Mourinho was sacked in 2021. Since then, Nuno Espírito Santo took charge for 17 games, and then Daniel Levy eventually landed his first choice, Antonio Conte. Conte wasn’t doing too badly, but he too was fired after a desperate performance against then, bottom-of-the-table Southampton. Conte’s assistant Stellini stayed on, but that was an equally forgettable spell.
Beneath the glamorous veneer of the training facilities and the billion-pound stadium, there lies a turmoil between the direction of the board and achievement in footballing terms. One trophy in over two decades doesn’t concern Daniel Levy, who is evidently more concerned with the business’s status in the Deloitte Money League and what the property side of ENIC’s operations are up to. Until the ambitions of the club’s board match and support those of the head coach, the same cycle of the last two decades will continue.