As we enter Day 2 of Redknapp Watch, it's become clear that no one in the English media has any idea what is going on, everyone and their mother want Harry Redknapp as manager, and Wayne Rooney is practicing open subterfuge to ruin this team. It seems only fair in response to this that we pay it forward and start to speculate about every single manager on the continent and who should be managing Tottenham Hotspur. Ideally, no move is fully made until after the season ends, as having to replace a manager in the middle of the season would be disastrous and indeed would force us to either settle for a manager willing to leave a team mid contract and pay compensation, or use a caretaker until the end of the season.
Let's pretend that will not happen and that we don't have to worry about anything until the end of May. Anyways, this board has been buzzing the past couple of days about replacements, most prominently discussing Jose Mourinho. We've discussed his pros and cons to the point of pedantry, so let's move on and simply say that he would be interesting but an unlikely candidate. So who does that leave us, David Moyes? Gus Hiddink? André Villas-Boas? How about Didier Deschamps?
Didier Deschamps is not a name I've seen discussed much around these parts, at least by anyone but me as far as I know. However, looking at his record he seems like the ideal sort of manager to come into Tottenham Hotspur, used to dealing with a restricted wage budget as well as managing sides that are not exactly the most prestigious of their leagues (with one notable exception that I will discuss). First though, lets dive into his background just a bit.
Deschamps was a world class defensive midfielder during his career, playing from 1985 to 2001, most notably with Nantes, Marseille, and Juventus. He also had a prolific international career, playing as the captain for France in their 1998 World Cup squad after the country had missed the 1990 and 1994 World Cup. As head of the "Golden Generation," he set the record for caps in a French shirt, only to be passed by players such as Zinedine Zidane, Lilian Thuram, and Thierry Henry. Notably, he was one of the few French players to survive a gutting on the team in 1996, after Aime Jacquet dropped Eric Cantona, Jean-Pierre Papin, and David Ginola from the squad following a one year ban Cantona picked up. Cantona famously described Deschamps as a water-carrier; his only talent came from passing the ball to more talented players such as Cantona himself.
Immediately after his retirement, Deschamps found a job managed AS Monaco, and thus began his ascent from world class player to world class manager. AS Monaco had been successful for a period (by their standards at the time) following the departure of Arsene Wenger from the club. When Deschamps took over, the club was only a year removed from a league title, and Deschamps would be unsuccessful in winning the league in his time there. However, he did manage to lead the team to the 2004 Champions League finals, famously squaring off with another future stalwart manger in Jose Mourinho. The Porto/Monaco final would prove to be the last time squads from a league outside of Germany, Spain, Italy, and England made the finals. Monaco lost 0-3, and since that point Mourinho and Deschamps have had much different paths following that match.
Deschamps stayed another year before conflict with the club's president precipitated his departure. He sat out the year and was a hot commodity to fill many high profile positions in the summer. His choice was indeed high profile, but also rather unique. Deschamps joined Juventus in the summer of 2006, the season during which Juventus was going to play in Serie B following the Calciopoly scandal. Deschamps successfully led Juventus to promotion, but resigned on the night the team secured promotion due to conflicts with the Director of Football. He would take another two years off following this.
Finally, in 2009, he took the manager position at Marseille. He led the club to its first league title in nearly two decades, since he had won it as a player. He has also captured two cup titles as well in his time at Marseille, mostly with teams that do not feature nearly as much star power as rivals Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain do. However, he currently is on the outs with club leadership, and his contract runs out in June 2012 with no signs of the potential for renewal. So he is poised to be available with no need to pay a club compensation.
Now that we've finished the history lesson, why Didier Deschamps? The man simply succeeds without nearly the amount of resources his contemporaries have. His most star studded team was probably the relegated Juventus squad, which itself had been gutted and only had stars in select positions. He has succeeded in France through the use of his academies and youth ranks, as well as an amazing eye for non name players who can do a job. He is very familiar with Emmanuel Adebayor, whom he managed at Monaco, and could prove to be a useful tool in convincing Adebayor to stay for a pay cut. Deschamps is flexible with his tactics, he loves a 4-3-3 with two wingers for width and two center midfielders with an anchor man, but he has found success for Marseille this year by playing a 4-4-2.
He also could prove a wonderful resource in developing Sandro, a player who in many ways is similar to Deschamps. Also important to note, I made it sound like everytime he left, it was due to conflict with club management. Those conflicts with all three clubs are due to his relationship with the football director. Due to our lack of one, this may be a positive in luring Deschamps here.
Of course this is all speculative, there has been no discussion between the clubs and no one is talking about it. However, Deschamps seems ideal for Tottenham. He manages a beautiful brand of football that he can adapt, he is very familiar with continental competition and squad management, and overall, in my mind, is the perfect fit for a club like Tottenham. In the words