When, last summer, Real Madrid poured £86m into Tottenham Hotspur’s coffers for Gareth Bale and Spurs embarked on a shopping spree not seen in the capital since the heyday of Roman Abramovich, many had not only tipped Spurs to reach the much coveted fourth spot, but even to be a dark horse for the league.
Having spent the first two months of the season shuffling his players around in the hope of unlocking the magic combination his side racked up slim, uninspiring wins, Andre’ Villas Boas saw his world crumble under his feet as the shuffling of personnel continued, but the boring wins turned into humiliations.
Having conceded six goals at the hands of Manchester City, the 5-0 shellacking Spurs suffered at White Hart Lane spelt the end for AVB and set the rumour mill in full swing, with odds slashed on his successor.
The names branded about verge from the romantic (Jurgen Klisnmann has a World Cup to prepare to the utterly idiotic (why Rudi Garcia would leave high-flying Roma for Spurs is a mystery) and the downright unpractical (hard to fathom Mauricio Pochettino leaving Southampton in the middle of the season).
The first five names on the shortlist, however, make for interesting reading.
The former England manager has recently clinched a spot with the World Cup with Russia, but he’s previously worked with Franco Baldini at Roma and, quite plainly, is rather sensible to the financial side of the game.
Capello seems to every bookies’ favourite, with odds between 6/4 and 2/1, but his arrival would do very little to placate the Spurs fans who had grown bored with AVB’s approach, for the Italian’s game is as frugal as they come, not to mention that the former AC Milan manager hasn’t managed a club side in years.
Still, should Capello get the job and do well, he could put himself into contention to replace Roy Hodgson after the World Cup. Too far?
2) Michael Laudrup
At first glance, Laudrup ticks all the boxes. The Danish manager has Premier League experience, plays the sort of attacking football that is widely appreciated around White Hart Lane and has shown an excellent eye in the transfer window.
There are, however, a couple of drawbacks. First and foremost, Spurs would have to approach Swansea and it’s hard to imagine the Welsh outfit would be too happy to part way with their manager with a European campaign well underway.
Furthermore, despite his success at Swansea, Laudrup might need another year or two of experience before jumping into such a demanding job.
3) Glenn Hoddle
The romantics’ choice, Hoddle hasn’t managed in seven years since departing Wolves and while the former England manager would undoubtedly be able to provide the attacking football the fans crave, delivering results is an altogether different proposition.
Having said that, Hoddle knows the club inside out and would surely receive the fans’ full support, a luxury that AVB wasn’t afforded in recent weeks, but would the former Spurs manager return to the club that sacked him a decade ago?
Still, at 8/1 he remains a decent bet.
4) Tim Sherwood
For some bookmakers, Sherwood’s appointment is just slightly less probable than Hoddle’s or Laudrup’s, but quite what the logic is behind that, nobody knows.
Granted, much like Hoddle Sherwood knows the club inside out, having played for Spurs and then spending four years as a coach under Harry Redknapp, but the former Spurs and Blackburn midfielder has no experience of managing team, let alone taking charge of a Premier League side.
5) Frank de Boer
Much like Laudrup, de Boer fits the bill, for he embodies everything that Ajax stands for – attacking, high-pressing, football – and like his former teammate at Ajax, de Boer has already tasted success in the dugout.
The 43-year-old has won three consecutive Eredivisie titles with Ajax, has international football experience, stemming from coaching in the Champions League and spending the 2010 World Cup as assistant coach to Bert Van Maarwijk.
The Ajax manager has long been touted as ready for a job in one of Europe’s top leagues and, despite odds between 12 and 16/1, the Ajax manager could be Spurs’ best bet, particularly as he’s already worked with the likes of Christian Eriksen and Jan Vertonghen.