By Greg Stobart
Tottenham will fight tooth and nail to convince Harry Redknapp that his future lies in north London rather than with England, but they have long been considering contingency plans should their manager take over the national team.
Redknapp, 64, is the overwhelming favourite to replace Fabio Capello as England manager - most probably at the end of the season - and has described leading the Three Lions as his "dream" job.
Spurs are bracing themselves for an approach from the FA for Redknapp and, while doing everything in their power to persuade him to stay, will not stand in his way should he want the England role.
The Londoners, currently third in the Premier League and looking very likely to qualify for next season’s Champions League, have been considering alternatives to Redknapp since the summer of 2010, when he became hot favourite to take over from Capello following England’s disastrous World Cup campaign.
In an ideal world, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy would want a ‘big name’ manager to continue the stunning work performed by Redknapp, who took over from Juande Ramos at White Hart Lane in October 2008 with the club bottom of the league.
Spurs, given their league position, financial clout and the quality of their squad, will be considered an attractive propisition for any manager. A new boss would also begin work in the club's new state-of-the-art training centre, which will be ready for the start of pre-season training ahead of next season.
Jose Mourinho, the Real Madrid manager, would be Tottenham’s first choice should he become available amid reports the Portuguese wants to leave the Spanish giants in the summer and return to English football.
It would not be the first time Spurs have tried to appoint Mourinho as their manager having held talks with the former Chelsea boss the day after he was sacked by Blues owner Roman Abramovich in September 2008.
Mourinho, a controversial figure but a man with an unquestionable record in management, ticks all the boxes as Spurs look for a figure who can ensure that their elevation into Europe’s elite is not short-lived.
The club’s two main criteria in their next appointment are Premier League experience and a proven track record, after having their fingers burned by the appointments of Jacques Santini in 2004 and Juande Ramos three years later.
Levy is also adamant that he will appoint a fluent English speaker in light of the problems with the aforementioned duo, while club officials are conscious of maintaining the equilibrium in the squad.
The Tottenham players are huge fans of Redknapp’s man-management style and therefore Spurs will look towards a squad-building manager who unites the players, rather than a strict disciplinarian like Rafael Benitez who could damage morale with his standoffish approach.
Mourinho, 49, fits the bill for Tottenham as they attempt to build a squad to challenge for the Premier League before moving into a new 60,000-seater stadium, scheduled for the start of the 2015-16 season.
Compensation and wages would be a problem in landing Mourinho, not to mention interest from other clubs and the possibility that he could yet win the political battle at the Santiago Bernabeu and stay with Madrid.
But Spurs have made their intentions clear and are determined to land the best possible replacement if Redknapp leaves.
Last summer, expecting Redknapp to replace Capello after Euro 2012, they sounded out another former Chelsea manager, Carlo Ancelotti.
The Italian, who was sacked by Chelsea in May, expressed his interest in the job but has since been named manager of Paris Saint-Germain, ruling out a return to the Premier League in the short-term.
Guus Hiddink is another option who holds strong favour in the Tottenham boardroom but the Dutchman has been strongly linked with a return to Holland, while there are concerns over his level of commitment having repeatedly turned down high profile club jobs in favour of international management.
The Everton manager, David Moyes, is considered a ‘safe’ option and has been in the club’s thoughts for the last two years. The feeling is that the Scot, much like Redknapp, is a shrewd operator in the transfer market and is able to get the most out of his squad of players.
Moyes, who has transformed Everton into consistent top-six challengers on a shoestring budget since taking the reins at Goodison Park in 2002, believes he deserves a chance at a club where he will have the resources to challenge for honours.
But the 48-year-old’s negative tactics are a concern and he may not be the big name manager to convince the likes of Luka Modric and Gareth Bale to stay at White Hart Lane.
Up-and-coming managers such as Brendan Rodgers at Swansea and Paul Lambert at Norwich are admired but lack the experience and pedigree for the Tottenham job. How would they handle the big names? How tactically astute are they to win tight matches? How do we know they aren’t just this year’s version of Owen Coyle?
Likewise, Tim Sherwood is held in high esteem within White Hart Lane - especially by Redknapp - but the former Spurs captain himself accepts that he is not ready for management.
Sherwood is currently technical co-ordinator at the club and primarily responsible for the development of youth players. While Redknapp would expect to take the like of Joe Jordan and Kevin Bond with him to England, Sherwood is expected to stay at Tottenham before eventually taking a step into management.
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