Whoever the new head coach and director of football at Tottenham Hotspur are will have plenty of problems on their plate as soon as they arrive in north London.
Chairman Daniel Levy suggested in his annual message to fans ahead of their final home game of the campaign that these appointments will not be made until post-season. The searches have been running since March. The club must have known and should have known for much longer that this was an issue coming over the horizon.
Saturday’s 3-1 loss at home to Brentford served as the perfect proof that smart clubs with plans are starting to get the better of those without them.
It’s no wonder that Spurs are admiringly looking over to the Bees in search of solutions. 90min understands that directors Phil Giles and Lee Dykes are on the shortlist to succeed Fabio Paratici, and Thomas Frank an outside candidate to replace Antonio Conte.
They are also interested in goalkeeper David Raya, who was one of Brentford’s standout performers at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. Frank has consistently stated the Spain international can leave the club should an offer of £40m comes in.
Spurs’ admiration is well placed. Raya has emerged as one of the Premier League’s top stoppers since promotion in 2021, currently leading the way in saves and save percentage this season.
He is the prime example of a modern goalkeeper, a perfect successor to the once next-gen but now outdated Hugo Lloris. Though comparatively short in stature – a modest 6ft, which would undoubtedly be put in the spotlight more often at a bigger club and is the biggest red flag against him – Raya commands his box like even the most towering of players.
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Where Lloris is timid when claiming crosses, Raya gobbles them up fearlessly. Where the Frenchman skews kicks into the stands, the Spaniard is an expert playmaker.
This was clear for everyone associated with Tottenham to see right in their own back yard this weekend, in case if they needed any more proof that he would fit like a glove (sorry, I ran out of other ways to articulate this point).
Raya was pressed aggressively by Spurs in the first half and yet he did not lose his composure and the accuracy of his kicks remained high. In second-half stoppage time, he produced two remarkable saves in quick succession to deny Richarlison.
Brentford’s three goals meant that Tottenham have become only the second team in Premier League history to both score and concede more than 60 times in a season (the first being 2007/08 Tottenham, who at least won a League Cup that year).
While only Leeds, Bournemouth, Leicester, Nottingham Forest and Southampton have conceded more goals than Spurs this season, they have the eighth-best expected goals against record (per FBREF). This suggests that poor goalkeeping – largely from Lloris, who has made more errors leading to goals than any other player – is a primary reason for such a sizeable chasm between the two stats.
Replacing Lloris between the sticks should improve Tottenham’s record, a goalkeeper able to finally build from the back an added bonus. Bringing in defenders who can actually defend and phasing out their current calamitous cast will help as well. A head coach who doesn’t push that defensive structure to the brink will be another huge factor.
There is a blueprint for Spurs to be meaner defensively and less self-destructive possession. The upgrades Raya can bring on and off the ball should make him a priority target.