From the moment Tottenham Hotspur's website put out a perfunctory statement bringing an end to Jose Mourinho's 17-month tenure on April 19, Daniel Levy has been engaged in a desperate Tinder session going ever-more wrong.
The Spurs chairman has an RSI in his thumb he's swiped right so often in the 60-plus days since deciding the Special One was no more than an ill-advised fling best left forgotten. Levy would get a match – yay! – but his chat would be so dry it put off countless potential suitors. Sorry, Daniel, I'm washing my hair. Yes, all of next season. Oh, and probably the one after that.
Levy was quick to recruit a dating expert in Fabio Paratici, but not even Spurs' new technical director has been able to get a deal over the line.
Sure, it hasn't helped that Harry Kane fancies some Netflix and chill with bodacious rivals Manchester City, Manchester United or even Chelsea, that guy he told you not to worry about. However, this still represents the second longest Spurs have had to wait to replace a manager, since Jacques Santini took over 257 days after Glenn Hoddle got his marching orders six games into the 2003/04 season.
If Spurs fans – the majority desperate for something attractive to enjoy after another trophyless season treading water – luxuriated in the peak banter that was Mourinho's anti-football being denied a last hurrah with the League Cup final just six days hence, but such hubris now feels a long time in the past.
With more than 20 names linked to the Spurs hot seat with varying degrees of credibility over the last two months – from Antonio Conte and Paulo Fonseca to the more outlandish Julian Nagelsmann, Roberto Martinez and probably Uncle Tom Cobley – FourFourTwo looks back at the messages, dates and aborted meet-ups to seven genuine contenders which have led to weeks of being pied off...
Erik ten Hag
No sooner had whispers suggested that Spurs were interested in the Ajax boss, had he signed a contract extension in Amsterdam. Come on, mate, it's never nice hearing through the grapevine.
Nagelsmann had already announced he'd be leaving RB Leipzig come season's end, so Spurs were quick to slide into the prettiest manager on the market's DMs. The 33-year-old, however, only had eyes for Bayern Munich when it became clear incumbent Hansi Flick would leave Die Roten at the end of 2020/21.
Flick himself wanted to succeed Joachim Löw as Germany boss after Euro 2020. Not that that put Spurs off trying to woo Bayern's treble-winning coach and talks were held. By late May, however, the jig was up and Flick was confirmed as Die Mannschaft's boss once this summer's jamboree was over.
Rodgers showed off his expensively assembled smile at Wembley in winning Leicester's first-ever FA Cup against Chelsea, then narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification. Spurs were keen, but by late May, Magic Brendan chose to stay put, having finished two places above the Lillywhites in the Premier League table.
Never go back? Well, Levy and Pochettino held talks in late May about doing a Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor after just under a year and a half apart, but Paris Saint-Germain dug their heels in and pointed to their contract. Don't rule out a future reunion, though, with Poch growing increasingly unhappy with his Parisian sugar daddy.
The one that got away. Spurs held extensive talks with the former Chelsea boss in early June, only recently available after walking out on newly crowned Serie A champions Inter Milan. Despite a strong working relationship with new technical director Paratici after their uber-successful spell at Juventus, Conte's demanding managerial style brought back too many memories of erstwhile gaslighter-in-chief Mourinho.
A deal for the former Roma boss was all but agreed in mid-June – right down to pre-season plans – until disagreements over the prenup's finer points curtailed matters, particularly Fonseca's attacking philosophy, which worried Paratici's more pragmatic sensibilities. It probably didn't help that Paratici had just started flirting with Gennaro Gattuso, who had just jilted Fiorentina after 23 days in charge, either...
It looked like the former Napoli boss would finally put Spurs' search at an end when reports of an agreement leaked on June 18, the day after the Fonseca talks broke down. It took Spurs fans a matter of hours to dig up Ringhio's past controversies on same-sex marriage and women in football, which got #NoToGattuso trending on Twitter. Levy, under pressure from fan groups, got cold feet and pulled the plug.
So, who's next?
Euro 2020 managerial Robertos Mancini and Martinez have been mentioned in dispatches, as have Nuno Espirito Santo, Eddie Howe and Graham Potter, but where Spurs go from the Fonseca-Gattuso fallout is anyone's guess.
About the only person who's declared any kind of interest is another former flame.
"Spurs is still in my heart," Jurgen Klinsmann told BBC Sport during his punditry work. "Absolutely I would consider that, but if he [Levy] doesn't want to I cannot force it."
Given Klinsi's lasted just 10 weeks at Hertha Berlin, winning three times in 10 games from November 2019 in what has proved his last managerial role, that will depend on just how desperate Levy gets. Back to manager Tinder it is, then...
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