Tottenham manager candidates express similar concerns as Antonio Conte
Daniel Levy has difficult questions to answer over the running and direction of Tottenham Hotspur as he attempts to identify a long-term successor to Antonio Conte.
Tottenham are expected to agree to Conte's departure this week as Levy weighs up his short-term and long-term options, following the Italian’s criticism of the club’s squad.
Conte flew to Italy on Monday and was not at Tottenham’s training ground on Tuesday with just a handful of players who are not on international duty reporting for rehabilitation and recovery sessions.
Ryan Mason could be put in charge until the end of the season if Conte departs during the international break, while more long-term options include Luis Enrique, Thomas Tuchel and Mauricio Pochettino, who are all out of work, together with Celtic’s Ange Postecoglou and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Oliver Glasner, Brighton’s Roberto De Zerbi and Brentford’s Thomas Frank.
But Levy is understood to be aware he does not face a straightforward task in replacing Conte with a top manager, with the 53-year-old laying bare the problems that he believes exist within the club and the squad.
It is understood that a number of Tottenham’s potential candidates to replace Conte share similar concerns to those he raised so publicly after the 3-3 draw with Southampton in which Spurs squandered a 3-1 lead.
There is a feeling from outside the club that Conte over-achieved in his first season at Spurs by clinching Champions League qualification and that this campaign is more reflective of the level of the squad and the ambition of the club.
Managers are also said to have reservations over the running of the football operations at Tottenham, particularly given the doubts over the future of managing director of football Fabio Paratici.
Paratici has been far less visible since being hit with a ban in Italy as part of an investigation into alleged malpractice at Juventus and has mainly watched matches from the directors’ box, rather than from behind the dug-out.
The uncertainty surrounding Paratici could be further complicated by an Italian court case that is scheduled for next Monday, March 27.
Paratici was handed a 30-month ban from Italian football as part of the sanctions imposed on his ex-club Juventus by the Italian Football Federation, which could still be applied across the globe.
On March 27, a preliminary hearing of a criminal investigation into the capital gains and salary manoeuvres of Juventus and individuals who worked at the club, in which Paratici has been named among the defendants, will take place to decide whether or not a trial should go ahead.
Questions have already been asked over whether or not Paratici himself will still be at Tottenham next season.
Midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg became the first Tottenham player to respond to Conte’s criticism on Tuesday while on international duty with Denmark.
Hojbjerg claimed Conte had not communicated his anger to the squad in the dressing-room at Southampton before publicly accusing the Tottenham players of being “selfish” and suggested the Italian should explain his comments.
“He didn’t tell us what he wanted to say at the press conference,” said Hojbjerg. “But it is clear that you work with each other every day, you want the best for each other and you want to be successful together. And sometimes the waves go high in football.
“I understand that if you want to be successful as a team, you need 11 men who are committed to a project and a culture. But I think he has to elaborate on how he feels before you as a player can start measuring and weighing.
“The coach has not been satisfied, and that is what I will take with me. You do what you can to please him. What I do know about myself is that I am an honest player. I am a player who always gives 100 per cent of myself for the team.”
Asked on the view of the entire Squad, Hojbjerg said: “We’ve all seen it. [It was a] very honest and very open press conference he gave. It is because he is not satisfied. You don’t do that if you’ve reached the quarter-final of the Champions League and if you’re in the semi-final of the FA Cup.
“It comes from the fact that, unfortunately, we did not get the results we as a team and club wanted. We are still where we want and need to be in the Premier League. But yes, it’s hard, I should say.”