Tottenham Record With Foreign Managers: Can Pochettino End Run?


The Tottenham record with foreign managers indicates that their new Head Coach, Mauricio Pochettino, needs to work quickly to make an impression. If he fails to do that he could follow a similar path to previous foreign managers at Spurs.

Newly-appointed Tottenham Head Coach, Mauricio Pochettino, knows that he needs to work quickly to impress his new employers or he could be on his way out of White Hart Lane, as other foreign managers/coaches have gone before him. The Tottenham record with foreign managers is poor with only Martin Jol and Andre Villas-Boas making any sort of positive impression and while Juande Ramos did oversee a Carling Cup success, his stay was brief.

Tottenham Record With Foreign Managers

Tottenham first appointed a foreign manager/coach in 1993 and Mauricio Pochettino is the seventh foreign occupant of the manager’s chair at White Hart Lane.

Ossie Ardiles (July, 1993 – October, 1994)

Win % (all games) 30.77%

Ossie Ardiles as Tottenham manager [Photo: Logan Holmes]Ardiles was appointed in July, 1993 in the aftermath of the court cases and upheaval surrounding the removal of Terry Venables by Alan Sugar. Sugar needed an appointment to appease the irate supporters and he went for a fans’ favourite, former player Osvaldo Ardiles who had just completed a successful season with West Bromwich Albion. Ardiles was under pressure from the outset as players who still supported Venables looked to leave with Neil Ruddock signing for Liverpool and Vinny Samways moving to Everton.

After so much turmoil at the club, it was a relief when the season finally began at Newcastle United and Teddy Sheringham scored the only goal of the match to get Ardiles’ Tottenham managerial career off to a positive start.

By the beginning of October, after ten matches, Spurs were fifth and Teddy Sheringham had scored nine goals. In the next game at Old Trafford, however, Sheringham was injured and was out for six months. Without Sheringham’s goals Spurs’ season slumped and it was only after his return and the goals he then contributed that Tottenham finally dragged themselves clear of relegation in the penultimate match of the season. It was a win at Oldham Athletic with goals from Vinny Samways and David Howells which kept ensured spurs safety.

The following season also saw Tottenham under a cloud as they took on board their punishment from the Football Association over the financial irregularities which had come to light during the fall-out between Sugar and Venables. A twelve point deduction in the League would almost certainly have guaranteed relegation before a ball was kicked, expulsion from the FA Cup and a heavy fine made White Hart Lane a despondent place. Players weren’t prepared to sign and prospects were looking very bleak.

Alan Sugar challenged the punishment and unexpectedly made a very significant signing – Jurgen Klinsmann who gave the club an immediate boost with his enthusiasm. When the season started the points deduction had been reduced to six and later the reduction and the FA Cup ban were withdrawn and replaced with a larger fine.

At the start of the season Ardiles focused on attack, with the ‘Famous 5′ of Darren Anderton, Nicky Barmby, Ilie Dumitrescu, Sheringham and Klinsmann. It worked as Spurs lit up the Premier League with their brand of exciting, attacking football. In the opening series of results, Spurs beat Sheffield Wednesday 4 – 3 and Everton 2 – 1 but then results slipped through defensive frailties and following a shock defeat in the Coca-Cola Cup at Notts County, Ardiles’ time at Spurs drew to a close. He won his final match in charge against West Ham United but was then dismissed, along with his Assistant, Steve Perryman, who had one match in charge as Caretaker manager. Alan Sugar admitted that it was one of the hardest decisions he had to make at Tottenham because he really liked Ardiles.

Christian Gross (November, 1997 – September, 1998

Win % (all games) 34.48%

Christian Gross arrives at White Hart Lane. [Photo: Francis replaced Ardiles but left in November, 1997. Sugar made a surprise appointment by bringing Christian Gross from Switzerland where he was highly regarded as manager of Grasshopper. Outside of central Europe, he was little known and was universally referred to as ‘Christian Who?’ He arrived for his press interview at the club brandishing a tube ticket after making his way from Heathrow on the London Underground. The press picked up on this and he was frequently ridiculed as he endured a very difficult period at the club.

Spurs won their first match under his management at Everton (2 – 0) but then lost 1 – 6 at home to Chelsea in his next match. Results didn’t improve even after Klinsmann returned and it was only in the penultimate match of the season that they ensured their Premier League survival with a David Ginola inspired 6 – 2 win at Wimbledon, when Klinsmann scored four goals. The following season started with the team in disarray and defeats in the opening two matches. The players hadn’t responded to Gross’ ideology and although they then won at Everton (1 – 0), it was to be his final match and Gross was on his way at the beginning of September.

Jacques Santini (July – November, 2004)

Win % (all games) 38.46%

After the sacking of Glenn Hoddle in September, 2003, Daniel Levy spent the rest of the season searching for a new manager. The continual speculation and uncertainty was finally brought to an end with an announcement that Jacques Santini, the French national coach would take up the post at the end of Euro 2004.

Jacques Santini – four months at Spurs

He brought in a host of new players and a very hard working defensive style of football and on the opening day of the season his team had 7 players making their debut, Sean Davis, Erik Edman, Phil Ifil, Pedro Mendes, Noureddine, Paul Robinson and Thimothee Atouba. Jermain Defoe scored the goal in a 1 – 1 draw against Liverpool.

While Spurs were eleventh in the League at the end of October, they had only scored six goals in eleven League games.

Santini unexpectedly resigned on the eve of the match against Charlton Athletic and was replaced by Martin Jol, who had been appointed as his assistant in the summer.

Martin Jol (November, 2004 – October, 2007)

Win % (all games) 44.97%

Martin Jol had an immediate impact on the team with a more expansive style of football and had a real affinity with the club, its history and the fans. Spurs scored six  goals in his first two matches but conceded eight in those two home matches against Charlton Athletic and Arsenal, losing both. Then in December the team went on a run of five successive League wins. Spurs finished the season in ninth place and the following year were pipped for fourth by Arsenal, having been in the Champions League place for much of the season.

Spurs were back in Europe the next year but lost in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Cup to Juande Ramos’ Sevilla team. They again finished fifth but during the summer there was speculation over Jol’s future at the club when officials were photographed in Spain having discussions with Ramos. It was all denied but after a poor start to the next season, Jol was under pressure and during a UEFA Cup tie at White Hart Lane, the news circulated among the fans that he was to be sacked.

Juande Ramos (October, 2007 – October, 2008)

Win % (all games) 38.89%

Juande Ramos and Martin Jol [Photo: Logan Holmes]Ramos brought a greater organisation to the team and initially the players responded, especially in the Carling Cup ties taking the team to the Wembley Final. The Cup run saw Spurs defeat Blackpool in Ramos’ first match in charge, then win at Manchester City with ten men and defeat Arsenal in the semi-final with a memorable 5 – 1 success in the second leg at White Hart Lane.

The Final was equally memorable as Spurs defeated Chelsea in extra time having been a goal down at half-time. Dimitar Berbatov equalised with a penalty and then Jonathan Woodgate headed the winner from a free-kick four minutes in to extra time. Cue massive Tottenham celebrations and the players going through the motions for the rest of the season, winning only three of their final twelve League matches. The departure of Berbatov and Robbie Keane didn’t help the manager but when the team had only two points from eight matches and were bottom of the League, Daniel Levy struck again and without any warning Harry Redknapp was installed as manager.

Andre Villas-Boas (July 2012 – December, 2013)

Win % (all games) 55%

Andre Villas-Boas [Photo: Jav The_DoC_66]Less than four later, Redknapp was sacked and Andre Villas-Boas arrived to oversee a ‘new project’ and build on what his predecessor had achieved. Villas-Boas had endured a difficult time at Chelsea after taking Porto to League and European success. It was a second chance for AVB and in his time he conducted himself in a a very distinguished manner and in his first season he appeared to have developed a good team spirit at the club. With Gareth Bale in the form of his life, Tottenham challenged for a Champions League finish but even with a record points total they still fell short.

More from Tottenham History

The departure of Bale and the arrival of 7 untried players in the Premier League, brought great changes to the team and with a laborious style of football, AVB was under pressure from disgruntled fans. The players also appeared to be less than supportive of the manager and when faced with the top teams threw in the towel. The second very heavy and embarrassing defeat, at home to Liverpool, saw Villas-Boas depart White Hart Lane before his ‘project’ had any chance of bearing fruition.

Foreign Managers

With such a poor record under foreign managers, it’s a surprise that Tottenham have again decided on that approach. The appointment of Harry Redknapp in 2008 seemed to mark the end of the experimentation with foreign coaches who while successful in their domestic competitions around the Continent, sometimes find it difficult to adapt their ideas for the intensity and pressure that accompanies Premier League football in England.

Mauricio Pochettino has the benefit of having had 16 months in charge at Southampton so is well aware of what is required in the Premier League. In an interview with BBCSport David Ginola praised Pochettino for the great season he had at Southampton. He described him as a very promising manager who has worked well with his players and is dedicated to the job but as Ginola warned,

"Working well with one club doesn’t mean you’re going to succeed at the other club."

Hopefully, Pochettino will be able bring the same degree of organisation and application to his Tottenham team to bring stability to the club and that Spurs will avoid another ‘Christian Gross moment’.