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Poisoned chalice or golden opportunity: Will Ange Postecoglou consider Celtic exit for Tottenham?
There is an element of the car crash about Tottenham Hotspur that would lead one to ask why Ange Postecoglou would ever consider taking on the job.
The Celtic manager leapt to the head of the betting to succeed Antonio Conte earlier today after Arne Slot, the Feyenoord boss, ruled himself out of the running for the Spurs position. It is one of the biggest poisoned chalices in football at present but equally, there are also compelling reasons why he could be tempted to take the job.
There will be the inevitable questions about whether Tottenham are a bigger club than Celtic – the answer, of course, is straightforward: in terms of trophies won the Londoners are not in the same league but at this present juncture – as one of the 10 richest clubs in the world, a perennial top-four team in the Premier League and regularly capable of going to the latter stages of the Champions League – then, yes, they are. If Brendan Rodgers saw fit to leave Celtic for Leicester City, then it would equally be a no-brainer for Postecoglou, where he would immediately walk into a club with the sixth biggest budget in England. Should Celtic defeat Inverness Caledonian Thistle in the Scottish Cup final a fortnight today then he will have already reached the ceiling of what he is capable of. What is left for him to do? A second Treble? A trip to the last-16 of the Champions League, however unlikely that aim might be?
At Spurs, he only needs to win a single trophy – even a measly Carabao Cup – to become the joint-most successful manager of the club this century.
Of course, there would be challenges to overcome. Daniel Levy has demonstrated himself to be a man who has a poor grasp on what it takes to build a trophy-winning football club after just one cup in 22 years. For the most part, his business decisions have been beyond question but his 'feel' for the game is sadly lacking. When Mauricio Pochettino left Spurs in 2019, Levy replaced him with Jose Mourinho – a coach who played a style that was the antithesis of what Spurs fans expect. His picks thereafter: Fabio Paratici (as sporting director), Nuno Espirito Santo and Conte – all pragmatists – have further betrayed his lack of understanding of what it is Spurs supporters want from their team. Meanwhile, the club's forays into the transfer market in the past five years have bordered, for the most part, on the disastrous. There are those who defend the Spurs chairman by saying that he has not picked the players himself. The critics counter that Levy haspicked the men who have made those signings. A recent feature in The Athletic laid bare the extent of how fractured the club had become and painted a picture of unhappy staff, low morale and an absence of experienced decision makers.
He won't get casual indifference from Postecoglou, who is forthright and will have bold plans. He might take heart from the fact the club is in discussions with betting companies aimed at implementing a new data-led recruitment model, he will also be buoyed by the fact that his old mucker Scott Munn, with whom he shared a productive relationship at Melbourne City, has recently been appointed there – indeed, it is Munn who is likely driving the sales pitch for Postecoglou internally at Spurs.
But one thing he won't be afraid of is the challenge or the fact that Spurs appear to be in turmoil on and off the park.
Simon Jordan, the former Crystal Palace owner, had a warning for the Celtic manager speaking on talkSPORT earlier today saying: “Going to Tottenham has its challenges. And not just because of Daniel Levy, but because of Daniel Levy. Any manager looks there and thinks 'I'm a Levy appointment, I'm going to have the same challenges any manager has had'. They would be rowing against a stream of great toxicity and negativity towards the ownership model of this football club. 'Do I want that? Or do I think there might be an opportunity if I keep winning everything with Celtic? Keep progressing Celtic and I might even get a bigger job than Tottenham'."
Of course, Jordan has a point but he would also do well to remember that Postecoglou faced very similar circumstances upon walking into Celtic two summers ago when the club had just lost out on 10 in a row and supporters had turned on chief executive Peter Lawwell.