Tottenham Hotspur are a club that has often been in the shadow of their arch-rivals, and across this season the gulf has seldom felt so huge.
As Arsenal declined under Arsene Wenger and later Unai Emery, Mauricio Pochettino was masterminding the steady rise of the Lilywhites back to the apex of the Premier League.
However, in a cruel twist of fate, it was the Lilywhites who then sought greener pastures in the form of ageing legends of the game, whilst the Gunners trusted in the youth of Mikel Arteta.
Tottenham manager news – Could Michael Carrick make a surprise return?
The latter now find themselves as title challengers, whilst Daniel Levy is once again searching for a new man for his dugout.
One such name that has emerged recently is that of Michael Carrick, who has impressed at the helm of promotion-chasing outfit Middlesbrough in the Championship.
With the playoffs within his sights, perhaps that could culminate in a move straight to the top, in a similarly meteoric fashion to the aforementioned Spaniard.
How does Michael Carrick set up his team?
Preferring to employ a 4-2-3-1 formation, it would instantly be an aesthetic improvement on the turgid back-three fans have become accustomed to in recent seasons.
The former Spurs midfielder, who also shares that similarity with Arteta as a former Arsenal player, has captured the attention for taking the Boro from a woeful start to the Championship season to within touching distance of the Premier League.
Across a short managerial career, the former Manchester United legend has enjoyed 20 wins from the 33 games managed, at a points-per-game average of 1.94. For context, ex-Manchester City colossus Vincent Kompany has managed a win rate only 0.9% higher on Burnley’s way to the title.
This has been accomplished through a long-ball style born of necessity, given the lack of pre-season he had, but with some attractive ideals mixed in.
Such compactness in the midfield makes them favourites for the second ball from these punts on every occasion, where they can then play their football in the opposition’s half.
Kieran Scott, who is the director of football at Riverside, spoke on Carrick, claiming that “he’s calculated, calm” in and around the dressing room and “talks about football non-stop,” adding an emphasis on the word non-stop.
And in some ways, that sort of obsession correlates well with Arteta down the road in north London – for anyone that has seen the ‘All or Nothing’ docuseries.
Such a passion for the game gives credence to his status as an “idol” in the eyes of Red Devils midfielder Fred, who praised the 41-year-old for his role in furthering his career.
With man-management sorted and a knowledge of the modern game surpassing most other older coaches, his relationship with Spurs could prove imperative in knowing exactly what is needed to turn them around.
Carrick is a serial winner, and did so on numerous occasions during his playing career.
Should he take the monumental step up to return to north London, the hope will be that he can emulate the success of Arteta and finally bring some semblance of identity back to Levy’s Lilywhites.