Santini takes charge as Tottenham end long wait

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The Independent Football

Tottenham's nine-month search for a permanent managerial successor to Glenn Hoddle ended last night with the appointment of France's coach, Jacques Santini. The 52-year-old Frenchman will take up his post as head coach at White Hart Lane after Euro 2004.

Tottenham's nine-month search for a permanent managerial successor to Glenn Hoddle ended last night with the appointment of France's coach, Jacques Santini. The 52-year-old Frenchman will take up his post as head coach at White Hart Lane after Euro 2004.

"I am an ambitious man and it has always been a dream of mine to coach a big English club in the most exciting league in the world," Santini said. "I am determined to help the club return to its place among the élite and look forward to joining after Euro 2004. Of course, this will not change anything to my determination to go very far with France at Euro 2004."

Santini has been in charge of les Bleus since their shock first-round exit from the 2002 World Cup in Japan and South Korea. France have lost only one of their 23 subsequent games, winning the Confederations Cup last year and qualifying for Euro 2004 with a perfect record of eight wins from eight. They are the favourites to win Euro 2004, where they face England in the group stage.

"I am delighted that Jacques is joining the club," Tottenham's chairman, Daniel Levy, said yesterday. "He was the outstanding candidate because of his experience, coaching ability and track record.

"As I have said on previous occasions we were always going to make an appointment at the end of the European season as it was our aim to appoint a top European coach. The supporters have been very patient and for that I thank them."

Spurs search for a new manager began after Hoddle's sacking last September. As David Pleat took a caretaker role, eventually steering Spurs to 14th place in the Premiership, there were few managers in European football not linked to the vacancy, although the list of serious contenders had dropped to a handful.

Among them were Claudio Ranieri, Celtic's Martin O'Neill and the Dutchman Martin Jol, who had the backing of Tottenham's new sporting director, Frank Arnesen. Ranieri held talks with Levy, making it clear he would rather go to Valencia. O'Neill was unwilling to leave Parkhead for Spurs. Jol was the standby option if Levy failed to secure Santini.

"[Santini's] arrival in addition to that of Frank Arnesen is the direct result of a comprehensive review of the football side of the club," Levy said. "We now have a coaching set up in place that has experience in several different countries and an extensive knowledge of players across the world."

Santini had a successful 14-year playing career as a midfielder with St Etienne and Montpellier, winning four French League titles with St Etienne during the 1970s and playing for them in the 1976 European Cup final. He began his coaching career in 1983 with Lisieux in the French Third Division and later managed Toulouse, Lille, St Etienne and Sochaux before becoming the technical director at Lyon in 1997. He was promoted to the manager's chair there three years later and guided them to their first League title in 2002. The job offer from the French Football Federation came in the wake of that success.

Although Santini has a decent reputation for spotting talented youngsters and nurturing them he also has a reputation as a dour disciplinarian who is unafraid of upsetting his players. His former chairman at Toulouse, Francis Andreu, said he has a "tendency to retreat into his shell and to withdraw into silence".

Vincent Candela, Emmanuel Petit and Nicolas Anelka could all also vouch for his tendency for telling players to do things his way or get out. All were dropped from their national side after falling out with him.

Whether his approach will make him more successful than Spurs' two former foreign managers, Ossie Ardiles and Christian Gross, remains to be seen. The bookmakers are not optimistic. The odds on Tottenham winning next season's Premiership have been slashed. 400-1, anyone?

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