Why Slot would fit in perfectly at Tottenham
Arne Slot travelled from Rotterdam to Amsterdam on Thursday night for an important engagement.
No, not to catch a plane from Schiphol Airport to Heathrow, for meetings about his future, but to see rapper Jonna Fraser.
His daughter likes him, so he took her to the gig.
The ‘gig’ he really wants is a club in the Premier League. If not now, then soon.
“My next step will not be a club in Holland,” says the 44-year-old who has just won the Dutch title with two games to spare.
“If that is my next step, then I’ve failed completely. The normal next step will be to go abroad and I’ve always said the best league in the world is the Premier League.”
Slot seems to have what it takes.
His quality as a coach is well documented. It’s not for no reason Feyenoord are desperate to keep him and Tottenham look set to come calling.
But less is known about Slot the man. Slot the person.
He’s engaging, polite, very smiley, he’s hot presence and charisma – and he’s funny.
His 30-minute news conference on Friday was full of quips and banter and gentle put downs.
“See you in London,” I said as he left the media room at Feyenoord’s De Kuip Stadium.
“I will go over there for the sun,” he replied, with a laugh.
The Premier League is the best in the world.
He’s big-hearted too.
“He can be angry with his players, of course,” says Dennis van Eersel, of Dutch national TV channel RTV, who follows Feyenoord week in, week out.
“But he also puts his arm around them. They like him because he’s built a harmony at the club.”
He says an example of this is a recent incident involving club captain Orkun Kokcu.
He had some severe sleeping issues that tore him apart. So when the title was won, Slot spotted him getting emotional about overcoming his setbacks and, despite all the madness in the stadium, went over to him and spent time with him and embraced him.
“That illustrates the human emotion and empathy that he has.”
Van Eersel, though, says there is one big thing about Slot that no one knows. It’s a thing that we could all learn about him if he goes to Spurs.
“He’s never had a streak of bad results. He never had three or four losses or not winning in a row, and you never know how someone is going to react to that. How would he react to criticism? What would his temper be like then?”
So, an easy life so far for Slot in terms of results. But he claims he’s up for a challenge. Tottenham is certainly that.
“Coming from AZ Alkmaar to Feyenoord was a challenge and we [my staff and I] took it.”
Feyenoord had just finished fifth, 29 points behind champions Ajax. Two years on, they are champions.
“But I’m not only looking for clubs that are in trouble,” he adds. “It’s not like I ask my agent to only look for a club in trouble. No. It’s not like that.”
Some would say Spurs are a club in trouble right now. That might change if they filled the manager slot with Slot.
Soon, perhaps, Slot could be travelling to wrap up a deal with Spurs, rather than to see a rapper.
How difficult will it be for Spurs to get Slot?
Dutch football journalist Marcel van der Kraan:
“It’s not as advanced as everyone would hope it was – especially Slot himself.
“They have to deal with the club first and this is a problem for Daniel Levy. Slot has a contract at Feyenoord until 2026 and there is only an option next year when a release clause becomes active.
“If Feyenoord say he must stick to his contract, it would require an awful lot of money to get him to Tottenham.
“Leeds tried to appoint him in February and he was open to it then, and he spoke to the club at length. He has spoken to Crystal Palace before and Fulham have made enquiries, but £5m was not enough for Feyenoord to allow him to leave for Leeds back in February.
“That says something about how keen Feyenoord are to keep him, as they want to go into the Champions League with him next season.”