Spurs next manager: Pochettino drops out as candidates to replace Conte are named and ranked

Matthew Stead
Claudio Ranieri and Spurs boss Antonio Conte

Mauricio Pochettino has dropped out of the race to replace Antonio Conte at Spurs. Glenn Hoddle is due another shot. Guus Hiddink doesn’t need the hassle.

The following men are the only former Chelsea managers still with us – and thus the pool of 19 candidates Spurs will choose from when replacing Conte. And it is time to rank them by likelihood of taking the reins in north London.

Pochettino might fancy his chances but he is disqualified from the running on a very obvious technicality. A couple of months’ work experience at Stamford Bridge and he’ll shoot to the top of this list.


19) Jose Mourinho
Please don’t. For everyone’s sake.


18) Guus Hiddink
Presided over one of the Spursiest games in modern history but regrettably condemned Eric Dier and his teammates for trying to dismember Chelsea’s players as their 2016 title push went up in Stamford Bridge flames instead of congratulating them. Guus Hiddink was imbued with the experience of replacing a mutually miserable regime when he inherited one of Mourinho’s messes but the bloke is 76 and has better things to do than mend those broken Conte bridges.


17) Carlo Ancelotti
‘Carlo Ancelotti has emerged as a shock contender to return to the Premier League at Tottenham if Tim Sherwood fails to keep the job beyond this summer,’ reads the eclectic first paragraph to a Daily Mail story from March 2014. Daniel Levy was ‘monitoring developments’ then and the only thing that has changed in the intervening nine years is the man he would be rejecting the opportunity to replace with a comically raised eyebrow.


16) Geoff Hurst
Likely to champ at the bit for any work he can get now his niche of World Cup final hat-trick goalscorer has been left in tatters. Only six years older than Roy Hodgson so should not automatically be ruled out. Also means he has been alive for every top-flight English league championship, League Cup, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, UEFA Cup and all but two FA Cups Spurs have ever won. Has not coached since ending his three-year spell with Kuwait SC in 1984 over an inability to prevent Dave Mackay and Al-Arabi from winning the title. The tabloids would have a f**king field day with Sir Geoff and Sir Harry working together.


15) John Hollins
Not to be confused with former teammate Hollins John, his three years in charge of Chelsea culminated in a sacking shortly before their relegation through those convoluted 1988 play-offs. Hollins served briefly as Claude Anelka’s assistant at Raith Rovers, which if nothing else means he is at least prepared for a degree of nonsense. It might admittedly be a struggle to get the fans behind someone whose playing career consisted of 465 league appearances for Chelsea, 151 for QPR and 127 for Arsenal. He was also the Spurs scout who had it suggested to him by one of his Cobh Ramblers contacts to come and have a look at a teenaged Roy Keane, to which he never responded. That heritage of eminently avoidable foolishness is strong.


14) Andre Villas-Boas
On the off-chance he can persuade Gareth Bale back out of retirement


13) Roberto Di Matteo
Mentioned as a candidate to replace Villas-Boas in 2013, which would have been brazen copying of Chelsea’s homework even by Levy’s standards. Those in any doubt as to how long Roberto Di Matteo has been out of the coaching game, consider that Steve Bruce was the last manager to succeed him. But the Italian has won more trophies than Tottenham this millennium and as many honours as Conte as a Premier League manager so there.


12) Bobby Gould
Must be considered on the basis of his two games in caretaker charge of Chelsea after Hurst left in April 1981. The Blues lost 3-0 at Swansea and 2-0 at home to Notts County to round off a disappointing season. Perfect. Subsequent success with Coventry and Wimbledon could undermine a candidacy which is otherwise strengthened by having resigned from most of his other roles, including at half-time of a Peterborough United match because he was sick of Barry Fry’s sh*t. Again, perfect.


11) Maurizio Sarri
Did get a mention in the fabled Tottenham manager search of summer 2021, when Nuno Espirito Santo was 427th choice behind Julian Nagelsmann, Conte, Brendan Rodgers, Erik ten Hag, Paulo Fonseca, David Pleat and many others. Those were simpler times. Doubt Maurizio Sarri can be particularly arsed with the media after last time.


10) David Webb
A Premier League management veteran of 13 games in interim charge of Chelsea in 1993, Webb did actually steer the Blues to safety in the first season of the rebranded top flight. The 76-year-old also purchased ownership stakes at both Brentford and Yeovil during his tenures at the two clubs, so would be a popular choice among a Spurs fanbase desperate for him to complete a rare hat-trick.


9) Ruud Gullit
A player-manager deal would perhaps benefit Spurs more than they would care to admit with regards to a 60-year-old who hasn’t kicked a ball professionally in Cristian Romero’s aggressive lifetime. Ruud Gullit also once got into a bit of a spat with Danny Rose so would have the automatic backing of a fair few supporters.


8) Eddie McCreadie
The workload could suit a nursery bus driver and mechanic based on a fictional island just off the west coast of Scotland but even Spurs might think twice about appointing someone whose last managerial role was with Major Indoor Soccer League franchise Cleveland Force in 1982. The coach who took charge of an already-relegated Chelsea in 1975 masterminded their return two years later but soon resigned, with the apocryphal tale that it was over the board’s reluctance to give McCreadie a company car following him out the Stamford Bridge door. He has since rejected that story but could not elaborate further than putting his exit down to “a disagreement”. And Tottenham managers famously have none of those with Levy.


7) Glenn Hoddle
The second-lowest win percentage as a Spurs manager in all competitions (48.08%) is absolutely begging for one more crack at dipping below a sunken bar set by Ossie Ardiles (43.85%). There are probably the composite parts to a joke about reincarnation in there somewhere if anyone can be bothered to arrange them appropriately.


6) Claudio Ranieri
Tottenham helped Claudio Ranieri win the Premier League title so it’s only fair that he returns the favour eventually. The promise of pizza and a funny little bell would sort Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and his pals right out in a way Conte could only dream of.


5) Luiz Felipe Scolari
Might be able to coax more than unbridled passion out of Richarlison. Arguably not quite Chelsea-adjacent enough for Spurs to be tempted. But that is thoroughly overridden by the fact that the player to have made the most appearances under Scolari in the Brazilian’s entire coaching career is Paulinho. And at just 34 there’s plenty of time for a lead-extending reunion.


4) Rafael Benitez
Not completely convinced Rafael Benitez has never managed Tottenham. They seem instantly compatible: a manager with experience of winning trophies comes in with the promise of guiding Spurs through those last steps; it starts well; results which simultaneously carry worrying underlying numbers are delivered; tensions bubble slightly over transfers; fans grow bored of an unambitious style which is no longer working quite as consistently; manager leaves after 18 months; Spurs are back where they started, with more time and money wasted and an even more confused squad. Consider yourself seen, Conte.


3) Frank Lampard
Absolutely matches the prerequisite for any recent Tottenham manager of considering himself to be above the club but accepting the post to do them a favour. Might struggle beyond that. Once navigated a Chelsea transfer ban which restricted him only to permanently signing Mateo Kovacic for £40m, inheriting £58m January purchase Christian Pulisic and being handed one of the most promising batches of academy products there can be, so might still have to get used to Levy’s brand of squad investment. Would demand The Basics; might not oversee their implementation. Would refer to Tottenham Hotspur Football Club constantly. Would share stories of lamentation about Dele Alli. Would try and bring Anthony Gordon with him.


2) Thomas Tuchel
The boringly sensible shout. If Tottenham do go down this route then they at least owe it to the world to make sure Thomas Tuchel and Conte encounter one another as they carry their respective things past what should have been the VIP Cheese Room. One last handshake, please.


1) Avram Grant
If only for the prospect of Avram Grant telling Tottenham how to be an elite club and insisting things be done his way if they are to win trophies. To be fair, he was technically the last manager to help them win silverware as the Chelsea boss whose Quadruple bid was struck down by Jonathan Woodgate in 2008.