Gennaro Gattuso is off the table when it comes to the never-ending Tottenham manager race. He never should have been a runner to begin with.
One of the very few good things to have come out of the culture wars our generation has been condemned to suffer through has been the coining of the term ‘pastem’.
It’s a reference to the fact that these days something doesn’t actually have to be true to have an impact. It just has to be feasible. If it plays to one side’s base instincts, it becomes a legitimate weapon in their arsenal. To wit: “Okay, so it didn’t actually happen, but you wouldn’t put it past ’em.”
Tottenham’s clownishly hilarious pursuit of a new manager taking the dark and disturbing turn towards Gennaro Gattuso on Thursday always felt like it might well end up being a pastem. Friday morning confirmed it.
Even before #NoToGattuso started trending on Twitter it wasn’t hard to imagine the difficulty in convincing a fanbase already on the edge of open rebellion to accept the appointment of someone whose record as a manager is very nearly as poor as his record as a human.
After Daniel Levy’s infamous “Club Values and DNA” programme notes, it would be sending quite some message.
And yet, even now, even in the wake of a backlash that threatens to dwarf anything that Levy has ever experienced in his time at Tottenham… you wouldn’t have put it past him.
Levy, obviously, has a huge problem here. In hiring Fabio Paratici as director of football, he has put distance between himself and footballing matters. Given Levy’s record on that front, that in itself is no bad thing. But while Spurs may have, in Levy’s words, “lost sight of some key priorities and what’s truly in our DNA”, they now appear to have a director of football never blessed with that sight to begin with.
Sure, on the one hand, it would have been precisely the sort of comically inept appointment that is very much in Spurs’ DNA. But on the other, saying all those things Levy said and then appointing a manager who opposes same-sex marriage, and appointing him during Pride month, was a step too far even for a club apparently determined to now lean all the way into its brand.
That’s far from the only unpleasant view Gattuso has espoused and the overriding thing is that he always just seemed a bizarre person to take such a risk on at such a time.
Even if we put everything Levy has said about the message he was going to send with this next managerial appointment to one side, even if we grudgingly attempt to separate Gattuso the man from Gattuso the manager, there was nothing there to suggest he should ever have been considered or was worth the hassle.
This is a manager who has never finished in the top four in Italy. This is a manager who has become available because of a Jorge Mendes-fuelled falling out with Fiorentina barely three weeks into his ‘reign’.
This is a manager whose most notable previous encounters with Spurs involved trying to get in a fight with the beloved Peter Crouch and headbutting Harry Redknapp’s assistant Joe Jordan. Oh, and Gattuso also once failed to back former Spurs midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng when he walked off the field because of racist abuse, insisting that “there are no racists there” and “Boateng certainly felt he was offended but I continue to not see it as racism.”
Remember, Levy has specifically said the next Spurs manager needed to be someone who reflected the club’s values and that all-important DNA.
Spurs’ manager pursuit has been chaotic catastrophic, but things surely couldn’t have got quite that bad. Gattuso hasn’t managed Chelsea at least, but that really is all he had going for him. There have been some seriously bad decisions made by Spurs under Levy, but you could usually at least see the logic behind what was being attempted. But that? It was utterly baffling.
Levy and Spurs have gone from hoping to bring back Pochettino, to making a cold-hearted yet hard-headed opportunistic play for Antonio Conte, to seemingly settling on the underwhelming but possibly okay Paulo Fonseca to having their heads turned by the actually absurd Gennaro Gattuso. I’m genuinely scared about whose name comes next on Levy and Paratici’s list now this one has also inevitably fallen through. It might actually be Tim Sherwood; you wouldn’t put it past ’em.