Tottenham Hotspur

Antonio Conte or Mauricio Pochettino: Who is the better fit for Tottenham?

Max Parsons
Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino are linked with the vacant Tottenham managerial position
Antonio Conte and Mauricio Pochettino are linked with the vacant Tottenham managerial position / Getty Images/Getty Images
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It was thought that Jose Mourinho's sacking in April would at least bring somewhat of a breath of fresh air to Tottenham.

But, in reality, interim boss Ryan Mason hasn't done all that much to cheer up the Spurs faithful during his relatively short tenure.

The 29-year old oversaw an up and down finale to the season, eventually leading the club to a seventh placed finish in the Premier League and qualifying for the maiden edition of the Europa Conference League - yay!

The need for a new face at the helm is abundantly clear and two new names to have been linked with the vacancy are Mauricio Pochettino - he of God like status - and Antonio Conte - he of serial league winner and former manager of bitter rivals Chelsea.

But the question is, does a return to north London for Pochettino suit Tottenham best, or would the guile and winning mentality of Conte be the best way to go?

Here's 90min's deep dive into who is a better fit.


Tactics

Of course, Spurs fans know all about Pochettino's tactical philosophy - it's why they love him. During his five-year spell in charge of Tottenham, the Argentine introduced his trademark high-press, high-intensity, thrilling brand of football - which eventually led them to a Champions League final in 2019.

With Daniel Levy craving the idea of Tottenham recapturing their attacking identity, Poch's creative and exciting tactics would no doubt reinvigorate the fans and the club as a whole.

Conte, although successful, is not as exciting. His usual deployment of a 3-5-2 formation has predominantly been focused on solidity and stability rather than flair and crowd-pleasing - he is Italian, after all.

Matt Doherty
Matt Doherty would benefit from the arrival of Antonio Conte / Chloe Knott - Danehouse/Getty Images

However, this way of playing has definitely worked for him, and just because his philosophy isn't the one prioritised by club officials, it doesn't mean it wouldn't work. There are currently a large swathe of players that would suit such a formation.

Full backs like Sergio Reguilon and Matt Doherty are undoubtedly suited to wing back roles and would probably thrive under Conte, while a two-man attack of Harry Kane (should he stay, of course) and Son Heung-Min would provide the focal point, dynamism and edge needed to balance the side.


Man management

This one is a no brainer. Pochettino already has a brilliant relationship with key players in the Spurs squad and could even represent a huge swinging factor in Kane's decision to either stay at or leave the club.

The Argentine also claims to still have a solid rapport with chairman Daniel Levy and will, therefore, no doubt be seen as the better appointment to introduce stability and to continue with a long-term project.

Mauricio Pochettino, Daniel Levy
Mauricio Pochettino with Daniel Levy / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

Conte, on the other hand, is not known for stability behind the scenes. He has often fallen out with officials - notably rumoured unrest before his sacking as Chelsea boss in 2018 and most recently leaving title-winning Inter after not receiving the backing he wanted from the board.

Despite often being touted as a difficult manager who doesn't get on with certain players, there is no doubt he can install a winning mentality and culture shift at any club he goes to - for example, giving Inter their first Scudetto in over a decade.


Track record

Despite doing a wonderful job at Spurs, Pochettino failed to bring any silverware to the trophy cabinet. He did lead the club to their first and only Champions League final, in which they fell to a 2-0 defeat to Liverpool - proving to be the Argentine's last game in charge.

Since then, Poch has won the delayed Trophee des Champions final with PSG, and led Les Parisiens to a 2-0 win over Monaco the Coupe de France final - both victories and trophies coming within six months of being appointed.

Javier Zanetti, Antonio Conte, Gabriele Oriali
Antonio Conte lifted the Serie A trophy as inter boss this season / Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

The shinier CV inevitably belongs to Conte, though. The Italian has a rigid and immovable system which always seems to work. He has won one Serie B title, four Serie A crowns and, of course, Premier League and FA Cup trophies with Chelsea.

It's safe to say, he's a proven winner.


Situation

Pochettino's sensational return seems so romantic that nothing should get in the way. But, unfortunately, there's the small matter of his contract with PSG, who only employed him midway through the 2020/21 campaign.

As it stands, the Argentine's contract runs through to the summer of 2022 and, with PSG unwilling to let him go before he gets a real shot of achieving European success at the club, it would be difficult for Spurs to bring him back - indeed, even the might of Real Madrid were forced to look elsewhere in the pursuit of Zinedine Zidane's successor.

Mauricio Pochettino, Kylian Mbappe
Mauricio Pochettino has the stars to win the Champions League with PSG / Xavier Laine/Getty Images

As for Conte, his run in with Inter officials at the end of the season has resulted in his departure from I Nerazzurri, just weeks after winning the Scudetto.

As a result, it leaves the silky-haired Italian free to pursue his next project, making him an easier target for Levy and Tottenham. With Conte reportedly keen on another stint in England, his appointment is the more likely out of these two, but whether it happens is another question.


Verdict: Who is the better fit?

Football romantics will undoubtedly be rooting for Pochettino's return to the Spurs dugout. It feels as though the Argentine has unfinished business in north London after contributing so much to the club's project between 2014 and 2019.

Mauricio Pochettino, Antonio Conte
Which of the two managers is the better fit for Tottenham? / Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

He would undoubtedly have the backing of a loving fanbase and respecting board, and the former boss' appointment would go a long way to reinstalling the Spurs identity - or, at least, starting the process.

But in what is turning into an unbearable trophy drought, the thought of immediate success may be a better option in the short-term. While Pochettino may need some time to rebuild to eventually challenge for titles, Conte has the experience of achieving success instantly.

First season league titles with Juventus and Chelsea - while losing in the final of the Europa League in his maiden season with Inter - is proof enough of the effect he can have walking into a new dressing room and, while that often doesn't last with the Italian, his track record of introducing culture shifts and winning mentalities could be key for Spurs in their current predicament and for the club's future.

Who is the better fit? Antonio Conte


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