Fabio Paratici’s paradoxical Tottenham legacy

Tottenham confirmed on Friday that managing director of football Fabio Paratici will step back from his role following FIFA’s decision to uphold a worldwide ban from the sport.

It’s always a great sign when a senior member of a club’s setup is even in earshot of such trouble, let alone the centre of attention, right?

This was a scenario which both should never have happened and yet was completely conceivable. Paratici arrived in 2021 as the man to take away football power from chairman Daniel Levy, but amid a haze of confusion at how his long-term spell with Juventus petered out and the Turin side stumbling from one PR disaster to another in his final years.

It was important for Levy – rightfully criticised for the appointment of Jose Mourinho as he believed he was still ‘one of the two best managers in the world’ in the year of 2019 (twenty-nineteen) – to hand over the keys to footballing operations. But Paratici’s suspension and expected exit will bring further question marks over his esteemed business acumen too.

Levy and ENIC have done an excellent job in transforming Spurs from a sleeping mid-table giant to one of football’s bigger brands, a club that was at least in the position to try and kick-start a European Super League. If Tottenham fans think their tenure has been poor, then they were living in the depths of Hell under previous managements.


Problems arose when Mauricio Pochettino challenged the club to think differently, particularly in the transfer window in a demand to refresh and rebuild his squad in 2018. Levy and co immediately followed this plea with an 18-month spell in which no signings were made, infamously suggesting in a meeting with the club’s supporters’ trust that transfers were difficult and slack should be cut. Aw, diddums.

But even then, there was the excuse of a new £1bn stadium to fall back on, a long-term signal that a change of strategy was on the horizon. Levy has actually put big money on the table to his head coaches since, though now there is an issue with the club’s various approaches on and off the pitch.

Upon Paratici’s arrival, there were immediate red flags and flashing sirens. Sure, an experienced professional was put in charge of football matters, but having come from Juventus of all clubs, it did seem like just another lazy win-now move, crucially one that wouldn’t be their last.

The search for a successor to Mourinho began with Antonio Conte, who was flattered but wanted time away from the game after his surprise exit from Inter (or he was holding out for a more lucrative job, we may never know for sure).

Paulo Fonseca was next up, a coach willing to play attacking football and promote youth but hardly a get-off-your-seat appointment. Talks fell through late in negotiations.

Paratici then completely alienated the fanbase with an approach to Gennaro Gattuso. Supporters campaigned against this move on social media due to his comments on racism, sexism and homophobia. Spurs backed away from a deal following this pressure.

Fabio ParaticiFabio Paratici

Paratici’s presence on the touchline was often confusing / Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/GettyImages

The job then fell into the lap of Nuno Espirito Santo, who was supposedly once a target for Paratici at Juventus – this was either a fat lie or an incredibly concerning lapse of judgement. He lasted 17 games before eventually being replaced by Conte, who had found job offers hard to come by.

That second approach made sense at the time and was only really brought into the spotlight at the start of 2023. Conte oversaw a joyous 2021/22 season which demonstrated the attacking football his teams are capable of, but various factors meant that his second campaign fell way below expectations.

But a subplot which rumbled on alongside Conte’s downfall was confirmation that Paratici was indeed a ringleader in Juventus’ financial mismanagement.

When allegations first arose in November 2022, the Bianconeri’s entire board resigned. They knew the gig was up. Tottenham – with the belief and confidence of a chess rookie believing a pawn can beat a king – threw their toys out of the pram when Paratici’s 30-month ban from football was made global by FIFA this week, laughably citing a lack of ‘advance notice’.

48 hours later, Spurs did the right thing and effectively suspended Paratici until his appeal hearing on 19 April The door open to a return if the ban is reduced to only within Italy, so we may not have seen the last of this debacle.

The appointment of Paratici was meant to transform Spurs’ thinking and bring them back in line with modern standards. For a club that prides itself on image, they’ve somehow endeavoured to make themselves more of a laughing stock, like Del Boy’s yuppy phase in the golden era of Only Fools and Horses.

Paratici at least recruited fairly well with the likes of Cristian Romero, Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur, but these only serve to further show his limited knowledge outside of Serie A, and Spurs’ rebuild has remained mostly stagnant as a result.

If Paratici was Levy and ENIC’s solution to cleaning up their mess, how are they expected to right his wrongs?

Conte was destined to eventually combust at Tottenham because it’s in his nature, but only Paratici was doomed from the moment he walked into Hotspur Way. He was tasked with overseeing cultural change, but was never the right fit to lead the revolution the club wanted and needed.

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