TOM COLLOMOSSE: Arne Slot and Tottenham could be a perfect marriage to help bring the club back to basics… But Spurs MUST put the right people around him – or he may go the way of Jose Mourinho
- Slot is being backed to become the next Tottenham head coach this summer
- He was recently involved in a fiery war of words with ex-Spurs boss Mourinho
- The Dutchman clinched the Eredivisie title with Feyenoord earlier this month
After a season of near perfection, Arne Slot made his first wrong move.
Asked before Feyenoord’s Europa League tie with Roma what he thought of the Italians’ playing style, Slot said: ‘I respect Roma. Their style gets results, but I prefer to watch Manchester City or Napoli. I am honest about this.’
Fair enough – unless the Roma manager happens to be Jose Mourinho, who has made a career of turning the words of rival managers to his advantage. So when Roma won 4-2 on aggregate, Mourinho pursued Slot down the tunnel at the Stadio Olimpico, shouting: ‘You watch Napoli, you should watch us’ before heading up the stairs, ranting about ‘respect’ and referring again to Napoli and City.
Slot is unlikely to be as candid next time, though he may soon need to pick up the phone to Mourinho. The Dutchman is high on Tottenham’s wanted list and if he is offered the job, he would be wise to seek the advice of the Portuguese, who managed Spurs from 2019-21. First nugget? Be careful what you say about the opposition manager.
Verbal blunders aside, Slot’s reputation is deservedly on the rise. Alongside Ajax, Feyenoord are one of the traditional giants of the Dutch game.
Arne Slot is being heavily backed to become the next permanent Tottenham manager
Slot won the Eredivisie with Feyenoord, the second league title the club have won this century
He could be the perfect match for Spurs, but they will need to back him with the right staff or he could be doomed to go the way of former manager Jose Mourinho (pictured)
The club of Ruud Gullit, Ronald Koeman, Robin van Persie and Henrik Larsson, Feyenoord won the European Cup in 1970 and the UEFA Cup in 1974 and 2002, as well as 16 Dutch titles. The problem is that only one of those domestic crowns had come this century, in 2017. In the same period, PSV Eindhoven had won 10 and Ajax nine. This season, though, Feyenoord made it two, winning the Eredivisie with two games to spare.
What Slot has achieved in Rotterdam is hugely impressive. Last season Feyenoord were beaten by Roma (again) in the final of the Conference League and promptly lost key players Luis Sinisterra, Tyrell Malacia, Marcos Senesi and Fredrik Aursnes for a combined £60million.
Only half of that was spent on new players yet Feyenoord have still improved, with Slot’s 4-3-3 formation and high-intensity football enough to sweep aside Ajax and PSV.
Slot is helped by a smart recruitment structure that buys low and sells high. Sinisterra joined Leeds for £21million having arrived for £1.5m. Malacia came through the ranks and moved to Manchester United for nearly £15m. Senesi was sold to Bournemouth for the same fee three years after his £6m move from San Lorenzo.
The next off the conveyor belt is likely to be Santiago Gimenez. The 22-year-old Mexican forward was bought from Cruz Azul and for £3m and has 23 goals in all competitions this term. Another significant profit incoming.
These players would not improve so rapidly under all coaches, which is where Slot comes in. The 44-year-old has revamped Feyenoord’s approach, turning a dull side into one of the most progressive in Europe. Midfielders Mats Wieffer and Orkun Kokcu and right-back Lutsharel Geertruida have taken huge strides under Slot and along with Gimenez, are likely to be the next players to depart for large fees.
It comes as Daniel Levy (right) steps up his search for a replacement for Antonio Conte
Current interim boss Ryan Mason has put his name in the hat to become the club’s next boss
Meanwhile, Tottenham have been ruled out of the running to secure Julian Nagelsmann
After seasons of drift and bitterness, Slot could be the man to take Tottenham back to basics. With Martin Jol and later Mauricio Pochettino, Spurs became an exciting side built on the talent of young, hungry players.
This is Slot’s way, too. The north Londoners and Slot could be a perfect marriage – but only if Spurs are prepared to put in place a structure that allows him to prosper.
Give him the right sporting director, and Slot can thrive – just as the Frank Arnesen/Martin Jol combination did during the early 2000s. That would involve chairman Daniel Levy taking a back seat in recruitment. Levy has always intended to do this, yet somehow has never quite been able to do pull it off.
If it is to be Slot, Spurs must put the right people around him. Otherwise the Dutchman may be doomed to go the way of Mourinho.
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