How Tottenham Hotspur’s misaligned culture is ‘eating managers for breakfast

Press/Media: Expert comment


The Tottenham Hotspur nerve centre is housed in an office that can be reached from the club’s impressive stadium via a walkway. There are no views of the pitch, no sense at all that the business is a football business. It is an obvious metaphor for the puzzle that is Tottenham, a club that regard themselves as part of the elite and yet cannot find a way to win significant silverware.
If the club are a baffling entity from afar then we caught a glimpse of just how frustrating they are from within when Antonio Conte, the club’s former head coach, embarked upon an emotional rant after his team’s 3-3 draw with struggling Southampton on March 18 that was, in part, a dig at Spurs’ inherent flimsiness. Conte, a coach used to masterminding successful campaigns, railed against a Tottenham culture that he claimed blocked the path of any manager with a coherent plan of action.
The outburst reinforced the notion that Spurs are not built to win; that if they are ahead with 15 minutes left of a game, no one will be surprised if they lose; that if they have a shot at the title, they will implode close to the finish line; that if they go on a cup run they will falter when it matters; that if they reach a Champions League final, they will not have the character to seal victory. What, then, is at the heart of such an inability to clinch success?
Period27 Mar 2023

Media contributions


Media contributions

  • TitleWinning is a mentality that cannot be bought — it has to come from the culture within a club.
    Degree of recognitionNational
    Media name/outletThe Times
    Media typePrint
    Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
    DescriptionIt is not as if the football strategy is in itself commendable, according to Sarthak Mondal, lecturer in sport management at the University of Portsmouth.

    “There are three kinds of players you need to build a team,” he says. “There are the long-term prospects who you bring in aged 18 or 19, the medium-term prospects who are 24 and leave by the time they have one last contract so the club can make some money, then the third kind who are the stop-gap solution. In my view the club have allowed managers to bring in players who suit their style every time. And none of them can play with each other.

    “They need to build a culture that sets them up for long-term success. At Chelsea, in the Roman Abramovich era, they bought in players that suited the team, not the manager, and that has not happened at Tottenham.

    “Winning is a mentality that cannot be bought — it has to come from the culture within a club.”
    Producer/AuthorAlyson Rudd
    PersonsSarthak Mondal