Tottenham: Why Eredivisie Pep Guardiola Arne Slot is the perfect manager for Spurs rebuild
Aniel Levy wants Tottenham’s next head coach to return the side to “free-flowing, attacking and entertaining” football, so Feyenoord’s Arne Slot, who is in pole position for the job, can claim he is a superb fit.
Not only did Slot’s side win the Eredivisie at a gallop, they did so with flying colors, playing intense forefoot football characterized by fast possession and constant pressing.
His fast-paced approach has already earned him comparisons to Pep Guardiola, Marcelo Bielsa and Roberto De Zerbi.
As well as winning in style, Slot has a good track record of improving young players and quickly building a roster in his image, which helped convince Levy to prepare a formal approach for the 44-year-old, who definitely wants to succeed Antonio Conte.
Despite his dedication to entertainment, he’s no Ossie Ardiles; Feyenoord has the second best defense (as well as the best attack) in the Dutch top flight and Slot requires their players to work tirelessly off the ball.
As a Guardiola student, he often uses the Catalan teams as role models for his players. At his first team meeting at Feyenoord, Slot reportedly played clips from the 2021 Champions League final between Guardiola’s Manchester City and Chelsea, explaining that the reason there were so few chances despite the attacking quality shown was due to the care taken by Die defensive runs by both sides.
This Spurs side are used to a completely different style after three consecutive counterattacks but the Dutchman, a former midfielder, would be keen to change that quickly.
After moving AZ Alkmaar (whom he led to the top of the Eredivisie after the 2019/20 season was abandoned) to Rotterdam, Slot inherited and quickly brought back a Feyenoord side that had played uninspiring, defensive football under his predecessor back forefoot. Part of his motivation for taking the job was the desire to prove it was doable.
However, Spurs need more than just a progressive coach; They desperately need a unifying leader who can restore the “values” and “standards” Harry Kane says the club have lost since Mauricio Pochettino was sacked.
Slot might not be the big name to keep Kane, but he is a charismatic and strong-willed character that is adored by his players.
Many, past and present, say on record that he is the best manager they have ever worked with, while Arsenal’s Reiss Nelson, who was on loan at Feyenoord last season, credits Slot with helping him find his “rhythm.” ‘ found before an important series of cameo appearances that season.
A video of one of Slot’s team talks (always held in English) after Feyenoord’s win at rivals Ajax in March was a good example of his persuasion and charisma. He concluded by saying, “We’re going to make this season special,” which elicited a roar of approval from the dressing room.
Perhaps Slot’s most impressive performance at Feyenoord, who lost just once before Sunday’s final matchday, was improving a squad decimated last summer after an encouraging third-place finish in his first year in charge.
Only four of the starters from the eleven that reached the Europa Conference League final last season (loss to Jose Mourinho’s Roma) stayed at the club and Slot lost all four of his top scorers.
But he built an even better side on a tight budget (a fraction of that of his rivals Ajax), underscoring his quality as a coach. As Spurs prepare for a rebuild of their own, this recovery performance should be particularly encouraging.
A Spurs squad that includes Destiny Udogie (20), Pape Matar Sarr (20), Djed Spence (22), Oliver Skipp (22), Pedro Porro (23), Dejan Kulusevski (23) and several players aged 24 up to 26 should be represented, should be exciting for a coach who prefers to work with young people.
Players like Orkun Kokcu, 22, have been converted by Slot at Feyenoord, while Mats Wieffer, 23, a midfielder signed from the Dutch second division, and youngster Quilindschy Hartman, 21, are now full-fledged Dutch internationals. 22-year-old Mexican forward Santiago Gimenez has scored 15 league goals in his first season in Europe.
As far as there are pressing concerns about Slot, it’s less about what it is and more about what it isn’t.
He is neither Pochettino nor Julian Nagelsmann, both appear to be ignored by Levy despite support from large swathes of the fanbase, although the Spurs chairman wishes he had a manager like Pochettino in 2014: young, hungry and on the way up.
And importing from the Eredivisie can be a special gamble. For every Erik ten Hag that Levy regrets overlooking in the summer of 2021, there’s a Frank de Boer that Levy won’t regret ignoring in 2014. De Boer won four consecutive titles in his home country, albeit with Ajax, but he put in a strong showing at Crystal Palace.
The Premier League would be a huge step up for Slot and while those who know him believe he could have a similar impact to De Zerbi at Brighton, he would find himself in a far more chaotic and pressured environment.
However, appointing a manager comes with risks and if Levy has learned anything from the last three and a half years it is that there are no safe things at this level. With his well-known, proven winners having failed to find success, the chairman is keen to find a manager more in tune with Tottenham’s ethos – and it’s easy to see why Slot has caught his eye.
https://www.standard.co.uk/sport/football/tottenham-arne-slot-feyenoord-daniel-levy-manager-b1083009.html Tottenham: Why Eredivisie Pep Guardiola Arne Slot is the perfect manager for Spurs rebuild