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What’s next for Tottenham Hotspur after Antonio Conte’s departure?

There was no way back for Antonio Conte. His post-match rant following the 3-3 draw at Southampton was surely designed to force Tottenham Hotspur’s hand and let the Italian go before the end of the season. It was therefore no surprise when news broke of Conte’s sacking. He didn’t want to be there.

Now, Spurs face a difficult decision on which route to take. And after conceding a 90th-minute wonderstrike to Michael Keane and 10-man Everton, it’s clear that decision needs to be made swiftly. Spurs need to salvage the maximum amount of points in an ever-tightening race for top four.

Cristian Stellini and Ryan Mason have been placed in charge until the end of the season, but the North London club are surely searching rapidly for a new permanent manager. Conte’s tenure ended in calamity, but the good news for Tottenham is there are a number of good candidates to succeed him.

Julian Nagelsmann has jumped to the top of many supporters’ wish list after his departure from Bayern Munich. The 35-year-old was sacked despite the Bavarians being just one point off the top of the Bundesliga table and in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. Nagelsmann’s stock is still high.

Tottenham need someone who can impose a new style of play after four years of defensive-minded soccer under Conte, Nuno Espirito Santo and Jose Mourinho. Nagelsmann could be that figure with his teams known for playing a modern, expansive and tactically fluid brand of the game. 

Mauricio Pochettino is still out of work since leaving Paris Saint-Germain at the end of last season and would be the pick of many Tottenham fans who never got over the Argentine’s exit from the North London club. There is a sense Pochettino might have been holding out for a reunion with Spurs too.

Nagelsmann might need more time to remould the Tottenham squad in his own image while Pochettino would find many of the same players he left behind four years ago – including Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Hugo Lloris and Eric Dier among others. Pochettino’s re-appointment would be an easy win for many parties.

Ruben Amorim is another potential candidate. He has enjoyed a great deal of success at Sporting CP and appears ready to take the next step in his career. Amorim is expected to make a leap to the Premier League at some point and Spurs could give him the resources and platform to build a team in his own image. 

Ange Postecoglou could also fit the bill for Tottenham Hotspur with Celtic catching the eye under the Australian. The Hoops might have struggled for results in this season’s Champions League, but their performances against the likes of RB Leipzig and Real Madrid showed they belong at the top level. 

Despite their recent struggles, Spurs could still finish in this season’s Premier League top four. They could yet play in next season’s Champions League with the North London outfit currently sitting fourth in the Premier League table – albeit level on points with 3rd-place Newcastle and 5th-place Manchester United.

A top-four finish would give them a platform for a new manager to build on. Nonetheless, Tottenham are in need of a rebuild. The club has spent over £400m on new signings over the last four years, but they have lacked a coherent strategy to make the most of those signings. In defence and midfield, Spurs need reinvigoration. Their squad simply isn’t strong enough to make an impression at the top of the English and European game.

Spurs have shown ambition in recent times. Their new stadium is the best in the Premier League and will help boost the club’s revenue over the coming years. The appointment of Conte might not have worked out, but it highlighted how the sport’s best managers are now willing to answer the phone when Tottenham call.

And yet, the club’s front office hasn’t done enough to underpin this ambition with strong recruitment and squad development. This is their opportunity to make amends and steer Tottenham Hotspur in the right direction again. Whether they appoint Nagelsmann, Pochettino or someone else, this could be the start of a new era in North London.

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