At the end of June, Tottenham’s long search to find Jose Mourinho’s successor finally came to an end.
Amid ties with managers ranging from former boss Mauricio Pochettino and Antonio Conte to Erik ten Hag, Nuno Espirito Santo was confirmed as Spurs’ new head coach on Wednesday, June 30.
Separating with Mourinho in mid-April after such a drop in form in 2021, the original plan was to name his replacement before the end of the season, but the search went on much longer than anyone had previously envisioned. .
After talks with Pochettino in late May over a sensational return to the club before it was confirmed he would stay with PSG, Conte’s name then entered the equation following his exit from Inter Milan.
After guiding the Nerazzurri to the Serie A title weeks earlier, the Italian left San Siro by mutual agreement after being embroiled in a dispute with the club’s owners as they sought to move part of his team because of their financial problems.
Conte’s availability certainly whetted fans’ appetites and it soon became clear that they wanted him to succeed Mourinho in the post after handing trophies to Chelsea and Inter in his previous two posts.
Such a key date for Tottenham after missing out on a Champions League spot in the last two campaigns, Daniel Levy said in May he wanted his next head coach to play “fluid, attacking and entertaining” football and reflects the values of the club.
Although he is one of the best managers in the world, many did not see Conte as a project manager because history has shown that he spends a lot of money in the transfer market and it is very rare that he stays with a club for more than two seasons.
However, as he was now in the market for free following his exit from Inter, as well as the incoming appointment of Fabio Paratici, someone he worked with at Juventus, he caught the attention of the then Tottenham president. that he was finally trying to name his new man.
Talks between the two sides duly took place and they showed promise from the start, later seeing Conte installed as the favorite to become Tottenham’s next head coach.
Both sides believed a deal could be reached quickly, before the situation changed dramatically and a sudden collapse in talks meant the 52-year-old was no longer an option for the club.
Back in his home country of Italy, reports emerged that Conte was surprised by what was written as the Lilywhites’ lack of ambition and their timeline to become title contenders again.
Those on his side, however, said he was shocked at how quickly the talks collapsed.
As football.london reported at the time, those within Spurs said they were looking for the best candidate for the job and needed to speak Italian in order to explore all possible options, especially since he had just arrived for free on the market.
Tottenham also felt the new manager should make realistic demands on them and not put the club’s long-term future in trouble due to the huge financial losses the club have suffered from the coronavirus pandemic.
It was also understood that the late Spurs feared Conte would commit to giving opportunities for young players such as Oliver Skipp and Ryan Sessegnon to develop in their quest to become Tottenham regulars.
Conte never seemed like the right fit for Tottenham and in the end they looked the other way.
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Later speaking to Italian publication Gazzetta dello Sport on why he hadn’t accepted the Spurs job, the former Italy international explained that it was the right project rather than the money. when it came to occupying a managerial position.
“Money is not my obsession,” he commented. “I look at the plans and I’m ready to stay home if they don’t convince me.
“I like tough challenges but if there is something about a club that does not convince me I would rather say: no thank you.”
Amid ties to Real Madrid headquarters this summer, the seasoned boss is still out of a job, but his name has already cropped up regarding a Premier League return given Arsenal’s poor opening month of the season.
A return to England may well be in the works at some point, but a big compromise will have to be found if he is ever to become Tottenham’s head coach.