Why Spurs must ignore Van Gaal and turn to one of these five managers

Tottenham are being strongly linked with a move for legendary Dutch coach Louis van Gaal, but, as Matt Allen explains, the north Londoners would do well to assess their options first...

Spurs fans: be careful what you wish for. While arriving with a hefty pedigree, Louis van Gaal - the hot favourite to replace Tim Sherwood in the White Hart Lane dugout next season - isn't without baggage.

Sure, he might have a Champions League to his name, not to mention seven domestic titles and the UEFA Cup, but his spells with Ajax, Barcelona, AZ Alkmaar and Bayern Munich have been pockmarked with controversy. Lots and lots of controversy.

For starters, there's the squabbling. While at the Camp Nou, a high-profile row broke out with Brazil's attacking midfielder Rivaldo over position; at Bayern Munich, Van Gaal once dropped his trousers in a team meeting to prove he had "the balls" to leave out his big name players. "I have never experienced anything like it," said striker, Luca Toni who was present at the time. "It was totally crazy. Luckily I didn't see a lot, because I wasn't in the front row."

Elsewhere, Van Gaal has maintained total control over squad personnel. At Barca he drew eight Dutch players into the squad. This tactic yielded two La Ligas and a Copa del Rey, though it also gathered critical comments from the Catalan press. Not that Van Gaal gave a hoot. When he left in 2000, he announced, "Friends of the press, I am leaving. Congratulations."

For journalists, read Spurs chairman, Daniel Levy and director of football, Franco Baldini - two figures, who in the eyes of Spurs fans, are to blame for the unusual transfer dealings and managerial appointments of recent years. It's unlikely Van Gaal will tolerate any interference on their part when it comes to selecting the players required for bringing success to White Hart Lane. The good news is that his judgement alone might be enough to deliver silverware. The bad is that the fireworks could make for a noisy sideshow.

It's for these reasons that Levy and Baldini might be wise to consider other options when considering Sherwood's replacement this spring. Luckily for them, the shortlist of alternatives makes for exciting reading...

Mauricio Pochettino

Renowned for his easy-on-the-eye football and a high-tempo pressing game, Pochettino's Southampton aren't a million miles away from Daniel Levy's blueprint for Spurs. Saints play a stylish game that has drawn admirers across Europe with a squad of skilful, mainly English players that have been developed into international prospects.

It's hardly a secret that Levy is a fan of young technicians with significant sell-on potential - he has shown that with his signing and subsequent sales of Gareth Bale and Luka Modric, among others. It's also a reported whisper that he covets Southampton winger Adam Lallana as a replacement for Bale - and Pochettino might be the key in that signing. Meanwhile, White Hart Lane would present another logical step for a manager on a successful career path, thus far.

Mauricio Pochettino

"Come on, Levy said he was calling at 5:45..."

Frank de Boer

Former Dutch stopper De Boer operated with a sprinkling of class while performing at the highest altitudes. He won both the UEFA Cup and Champions League with Ajax, and La Liga with Barcelona following his transfer in 1998/99. As a player he was cut very much in the Spurs mould.

At managerial level, De Boer has enjoyed a similarly prestigious career, working as an assistant coach with the Netherlands as they progressed to the World Cup Final in 2010. Since then he has taken charge of an impressive Ajax side, winning three Eredivisie titles and moulding the early career of current Spurs playmaker, (former Ajax star) Christian Eriksen. That link alone would make him a popular choice with fans and board members alike.

Jurgen Klinsmann

Beware the returning hero. While being a certified crowd favourite at White Hart Lane (but best not mention his hasty departure, and the subsequent Alan Sugar tantrum after his first season in 1994/95), Klinsmann also carries a certain something in managerial terms. Problem is, former legends-turned-managers don't always work out well, as Glenn Hoddle would testify.

Still, given he has operated effectively with the U.S. national team and helped them to qualify for the World Cup this year, an approach following the finals isn't entirely out of the question. The only stumbling block would be his contract, which was extended on December 12, 2013 - four days before Andre Villas-Boas was shown the door.

Jurgen Klinsmann

Klinsmann would be a popular appointment in north London

Carlo Ancelotti

Like Gareth Bale, Ancelotti has endured mixed reviews from the Madridistas this season. Real's inability to pull away in La Liga, twinned with a disappointing defeat in El Clásico last month and a shock away loss to Sevilla, has piled on the pressure. The manner in which they made it through to this year's Champions League semi-final - an occasionally nervy 2-0, second-leg loss to Borussia Dortmund - won't have helped, either.

There's a feeling that if he doesn't win the much-loved European prize this year, Ancelotti might be for the chop. This would have been noted by Spurs, given that as a manger he has both European pedigree and a healthy experience of the Premier League where he briefly managed Chelsea.

Michael Laudrup

Not the spectacular appointment it would have been 12 months ago, but nevertheless, Laudrup still holds some weight as a free agent. Much of this reputation comes from his first season in the Premier League with Swansea, where his team played with style, won the Capital One Cup and attained a healthy mid-table finish.

The lacklustre way in which they approached the 2013/14 campaign will have rang warning bells, however. Europa League air miles and the subsequent logistical assault course that has to be completed in the tournament's wake meant that for much of the season, Swansea looked jaded. If Laudrup can bring his attacking football to White Hart Lane, great. If he's unable to balance domestic and European commitments it might be a tricky appointment.

SEE ALSO Campbell: Levy not afraid to sack his managers


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Pochettino or Laudrup might play attractive football in the much vaunted 'Spurs way', but they also inherited/created/moulded a team to be able play that way. Looking across the Spurs squad, I really don't see many players with the intelligence or ability to play in that manner. We have never replaced Modric as a sitting metronomic passer of the ball, and sticking Eriksen there would be a waste of his ability.

I'd love to have them at Spurs, but I'd hate to see them damage their careers by joining us and being turfed out after a season or two. At least van Gaal might have the bottle to stand up to Levy, and if he walks, I doubt he'll keep quiet about what the chairman is really like.