It looks like we've hit the time of year where insane managerial rumors start springing up like that horsetail infestation you just can't get out of your garden. Take it away, Daily Mirror!
Rafa Benitez is ready for the Premier League again, with [Tottenham Hotspurs] in his sights.
The former Liverpool boss, currently at Napoli, is interested in a return to London having guided Chelsea back into the Champions League last season.
While Louis van Gaal and Mauricio Pochettino are among the favourites to succeed Tim Sherwood, Tottenham are keeping their options open.
That's, uhm... huh. That's really random and seems to be coming out of nowhere. It's tempting to just chalk it up to the Daily Mirror being, well, the Daily Mirror and write it off, especially since their reasoning seems to be that Rafa "hasn't always enjoyed his stay in Italy," which is just bizarre.
Once you get past the first blush, though, there's some ways that this would make sense. Rafa loves managing in England, and the Spurs job almost certainly to soon be vacated is probably the best one that will be opening up there any time soon. Well, unless Manchester United fire David Moyes, but they'd never hire Rafa so it's a moot point. Tottenham may have disappointed this season, but they've got a talented squad that should be competing with the best of the Premier League.
There's some question marks to the fit, though. Spurs won't be in the Champions League next year, and likely won't even make the Europa League, so there won't be any European challenge for a manager that relishes in them. Plus, their president, Daniel Levy, is even more of a control freak than Aurelio De Laurentiis, and that doesn't seem like it would end well.
From a pure Napoli standpoint, this isn't the greatest rumor to see. A manager that's already frustrating much of the fanbase batting his eyelashes at another club isn't going to win anyone over that way, and this might actually serve to enhance the calls for his head that have already been uttered by some. There's also the issue of who would replace him; there's not many Italian managers of sufficient quality that would be available, and it's far from a certainty that they'd be interested as they're all more likely to manage abroad at this point.
Thinking on who could replace Rafa is an interesting, though also frustrating exercise. Carlo Ancelotti has been subject of hilariously awful firing rumors at Real Madrid, and if he does get fired and would be willing to take the job, he should be given it in half a heartbeat. Ajax's Frank De Boer is rumored to want a new challenge, and it would be interesting to see how he does with this squad. A pipe dream type of hire would be Dortmund's Jurgen Klopp, who's also be rumored to be looking at something new and different. If he does leave Dortmund, though, the line of clubs looking to get him would be so long that Napoli would have little to no chance of getting him.
As fans a club that's not in the top tier of European giants, you're always going to have to deal with other clubs trying to come in and poach your manager if you have a good one. It's not fun to deal with, but at least Napoli are good enough that attracting a good new one shouldn't be too difficult, especially with Champions League football in store. Hopefully for the sake of continuity and stability, Rafa stays at Napoli; frustrations of this season aside, he's started a project that has a lot of potential, and it'd be good to see it through. Either way, this will almost certainly not be the last we hear of such rumors, and it's going to get old before it ends one way or the other.