Growing belief Antonio Conte, out of contract this summer, will depart before the end of the season; several players and staff pleading with Mauricio Pochettino to return; other names in the frame include Roberto De Zerbi, Luis Enrique, Thomas Tuchel, Marco Silva and Thomas Frank
Thursday 9 March 2023 19:56, UK
Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy "will be pragmatic" amid huge pressure to reappoint Mauricio Pochettino as Spurs manager, with several players and staff pleading with the Argentine to return and reinvigorate the club.
There is growing belief Antonio Conte, out of contract this summer, will depart before the end of the season, with 12 games left in the campaign.
While there is no immediate sign of change, with the Italian set to undertake Friday's press conference and be in the dugout for the hosting of Nottingham Forest, there is the understanding that things can swing very quickly in football.
Senior members of Tottenham's squad are hankering for the brave, progressive style not seen at Spurs since Pochettino was sacked in November 2019. They also feel the development of players has been neglected.
Tottenham supporters, accustomed to their team being high-octane, dominant and captivating under the 51-year-old to then watching the inverse since, are overwhelmingly in favour of a reunion.
While Pochettino is warmly viewed by the hierarchy, club directors - and Levy in particular - will not be swayed by emotion. As much as they remember the heights of his tenure, the reasons why it ended have not been ignored.
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, meanwhile, wants Pochettino to be Carlo Ancelotti's successor at the Bernabeu.
It is understood that Tottenham do have a list of candidates in place. Pochettino will of course be considered, but Spurs are one of three Premier League clubs filling a dossier on Roberto De Zerbi, who is expected to become Europe's next top manager.
Luis Enrique, Thomas Tuchel and Marco Silva are believed to be in the equation while Thomas Frank also appeals.
Managing director of football Fabio Paratici has been heavily involved in the process of pinpointing options, but his own position is complicated.
He could face a worldwide ban should a 30-month suspension as part of Juventus's false accounting scandal, laid down by the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), not be overturned on appeal. The Serie A club have denied all wrongdoing.
Tottenham have engaged in due diligence on sporting directors so they are potentially priming for more than a managerial change.
Spurs, who also have concerns over Harry Kane's future, crashed out of the Champions League at the hands of AC Milan on Wednesday night, their third straight defeat without scoring.
They have managed to find the net only twice in their last six games across all competitions to crown a season that has been marked with joyless football.
Conte told the club hierarchy in January he was "having important reflections" and needed to spend more time with his family after the passing of three close friends.
Tottenham have been very sensitive - even in terms of succession planning - to the incredibly hard few months the Italian has navigated on a personal level, compounded by undergoing gallbladder surgery that required an extended recuperation period.
Conte's work ethic and commitment to management has never been in question, and he is well-liked at Spurs.
However, there is wide realisation that his energy and effectiveness has depreciated.
Conte admitted in the aftermath of the Champions League exit that Spurs could sack him before the end of the season, telling Italian broadcaster Prime: "Perhaps the expectations were higher, and they may be disappointed? What matters for a coach is trying to work and raise the bar. This year we are struggling to raise the bar."
Sky Sports News Senior Reporter Melissa Reddy:
"In terms of Conte's immediate future there is to be no change, by virtue of the fact he will take Friday's press conference and be in the dugout for Saturday's Nottingham Forest game.
"But there is intense pressure for Tottenham to reappoint Mauricio Pochettino. The supporter base were so accustomed to glorious times under him and had a strong bond with Pochettino and his coaching staff.
"Also, a lot of players and staff have been speaking to the Argentine urging him to return and resurrect the club.
"I'm told Spurs do have a shortlist in place for Conte's successor. They are one of three Premier League clubs who are really fascinated by Brighton manager Roberto De Zerbi. He's tipped to become the next top manager in Europe.
"Spurs are undergoing due diligence in terms of their manager but also in terms of sporting directors given the situation Fabio Paratici finds himself under with the worldwide ban he is potentially facing."
Sky Sports News reporter Michael Bridge:
"The vast majority of fans would be delighted if Pochettino returned.
"The fans loved him, but what they loved about him was his passion for the football club.
"He still holds a very good relationship with Daniel Levy, but whether he has that relationship with every board member, I'm not so sure. His coaching staff also still love the club, Jesus Perez [Pochettino's assistant] in particular.
"But how does it look for Spurs after sacking Pochettino, bringing in Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte - with both of those managers on big contracts - to go round again back to Pochettino."