Antonio Conte celebrates a yr in control of Tottenham Hotspur subsequent week, however all indicators are starting to recommend it will not be a contented anniversary.
The previous Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan coach has been successful to date, in relative phrases not less than, by salvaging a seemingly hopeless state of affairs when arriving on the membership final November. By the tip of the season he had guided the workforce into the Champions League on the again of a late run that noticed Spurs overtake Arsenal within the last week to say fourth spot.
Conte did what Conte does. He’s the last word quick-fix coach — he brings health and organisation, calls for absolute focus and dedication from his gamers, and that blueprint enabled Spurs to climb from ninth place on the day he arrived to fourth, with a two-point cushion, on the finish of the marketing campaign.
That achievement enabled Conte to demand, and get, robust backing in the summertime switch market when Spurs invested over £150 million in new gamers — together with ahead Richarlison, midfielder Yves Bissouma and defender Cristian Romero (whose mortgage was made everlasting) — to rework the workforce from one with top-four ambitions to a aspect which might problem for the Premier League title.
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But regardless of overseeing Tottenham’s best-ever begin to a Premier League season, latest outcomes have considerably lowered expectations and the storm clouds which might be by no means distant from Conte are starting to return. The preliminary sugar rush that his groups all the time appear to take pleasure in when he takes over has began to put on off and historical past reveals that the trajectory of outcomes and supporter satisfaction solely tends to go in a single path as soon as the 53-year-old loses that early impetus.
It’s why Manchester United rejected the possibility to pursue Conte a yr in the past when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was dropping his grip on the supervisor’s job at Previous Trafford. Sources instructed ESPN that the membership hierarchy needed to keep away from hiring Conte due to the short-term nature of his teaching profession and the priority that his strategies would work for under so lengthy with United’s gamers.
However might United’s misgivings about Conte be starting to look at Tottenham? The following week ought to spotlight whether or not the cracks which might be beginning to present might be smoothed over or if they are going to grow to be even greater.
Saturday’s journey to Bournemouth is a must-win recreation on the again of two straight league defeats, whereas Tuesday’s last Champions League group recreation in opposition to Marseille at Stade Velodrome is one other which Spurs can not afford to lose. After which comes the go to of Liverpool every week on Sunday — a workforce which were faltering, however one which might be unbeaten in 10 video games in opposition to Spurs courting again to October 2017.
With Spurs followers now starting to complain about Conte’s type of soccer, with the nostalgic glow of Mauricio Pochettino’s groups placing the Italian’s aspect in an unfavourable gentle, a failure to emerge from the present malaise in these video games will enhance the scrutiny on the coach.
Conte’s response to Harry Kane‘s VAR-disallowed winner in opposition to Sporting CP on Wednesday — which earned him a crimson card from the referee — highlighted his rising frustration. And it’s a frustration borne out of his workforce’s repeated failure to indicate they can take the step in direction of being a successful workforce moderately than an unreliable and inconsistent one.
Fairly merely, when Spurs have been requested to make an announcement this season, they’ve failed. Conte’s workforce have misplaced in opposition to Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle — three direct rivals for the highest 4 — and their detached kind within the Champions League has left them travelling to Marseille subsequent Tuesday needing to keep away from defeat to qualify for the knockout levels.
Accidents have undoubtedly hampered the workforce’s progress, notably with Dejan Kulusevski sidelined since mid-September and Richarlison struggling to get better forward of the World Cup subsequent month, however the inescapable reality about Spurs is that they continue to be completely reliant on the objectives of Kane and Conte has executed nothing to change that. The England captain has scored 11 objectives in 15 video games — together with 10 of the aspect’s 23 within the league — and is carrying the workforce as soon as once more. If Conte can not discover a method to unfold the goal-scoring burden across the workforce, Spurs shall be on a tightrope till the tip of the season.
Being coached by Conte is commonly a tightrope existence for the golf equipment that make use of him due to the way in which he works and his difficult persona. There’s not often a way of calm with Conte, moderately a everlasting state of simmering rigidity with gamers, senior figures, match officers or supporters.
The uncertainty over his future at Spurs — his contract expires on the finish of the season, with Spurs having a one-year possibility to increase — does not lend itself to the calmness that’s required and the workforce now look to be coming into the state of flux that ultimately impacts all of his sides. The storm clouds are starting to rumble and Conte’s first anniversary subsequent Wednesday shall be accompanied by the soundtrack of thunder if Marseille ship Spurs crashing out of the Champions League.
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