Chaos Of Jacques Santini's 13-Game Reign Shows How Far Spurs Have Come In 15 Years
If Spurs ever want to put Mauricio Pochettino’s achievements in perspective, then they needn’t look back all that far.
The Argentine recently celebrated five years in charge, shortly before guiding the club to the first Champions League final in their history.
Five years may seem a short time in football. However, it’s not so long ago that Spurs were sifting through managers like they were going out of fashion.
In June 2004, Daniel Levy turned to Jacques Santini to revive the Lilywhites’ fortunes.
Relatively little was known about him in England despite his preceding stint in charge of France.
His time with Les Bleus ended on a rather low note too, as they slumped to a shock exit in the European Championships at the hands of eventual winners Greece.
There were still reasons to be optimistic about his arrival in north London. Only two years earlier, France Football had named him the best French coach on the back of a successful spell with Lyon and what was more, Spurs were in dire need of stability.
After Glenn Hoddle’s departure in 2003, it had taken a year for Levy to secure a permanent replacement, caretaker boss David Pleat steering the ship in between.
Hoddle could at least, rather smugly, continue to point to the club’s confused hierarchical structures as testament to why he had never reached the levels of his glorious playing career as a coach.
There was a sense of chaos before Santini arrived. Claudio Ranieri had been one of the preferred candidates but opted for Valencia instead.
Nevertheless, Santini’s start to the campaign was respectable, taking Spurs up to third at one point. The football itself was pragmatic, some would say pedestrian - or worse, tedious. A total of just six goals in 11 league games were proof of that.
Few remember that he was the man who, in masterminding a goalless draw against Chelsea, prompted Jose Mourinho’s first ever mention of “parking the bus”.
Then as suddenly as it had begun, it was all over. Santini resigned, citing personal reasons.
Within weeks, he had gone on French TV lambasting director of football Frank Arnesen. When he was invited as Levy’s special guest to the north London derby at White Hart Lane, he didn’t turn up, leaving an empty seat.
He had lasted just 13 games and 155 days, the shortest reign of any Tottenham manager. There was little to suggest that he enjoyed many of them either. He later revealed that it was only when he attended a team photo shoot that he was told captain Stephen Carr was leaving.
If all’s well that ends well, then Santini’s premature departure at least prompted Martin Jol’s promotion to first-team manager, the Dutchman laying much of the groundwork for Spurs’ return to prominence, finally ushering them away from mid-table mediocrity.
Tottenham’s years of managerial commotion seem a distant memory now.