Since Antonio Conte replaced Nuno Santo as Tottenham manager towards the back end of last year, the Italian tactician has done his best to stamp his mark at the club, and give the north London outfit an identity.
A run of three straight Premier League defeats was cause for concern, but a 3-2 victory over Manchester City last weekend could give Spurs impetus, and ignite their season as the race for the top four intensifies.
Anyway, it’s time to make some assessments on Conte’s reign in charge of Spurs, and whether he really is misunderstood?
Elation at the Etihad
The win over City was chaotic, and there was some late drama from Harry Kane. In many respects, Kane showed City exactly what they were missing as he helped himself to a double, and he combined superbly with Son Heung-Min.
Kane has at times gone through the motions this season. Part of that was to do with the fact he was at the centre of a transfer saga last summer involving City, although they failed to lure him away from Tottenham. Although he has only netted seven times this season in England’s top-flight division, there have been signs that Kane has been close to recapturing his best form.
Conte couldn’t conceal his delight, as Spurs clinched a rare league double over Pep Guardiola’s charges.
He said: “I’m finding a lot of availability of these players to work, to improve, to have more football knowledge.
“They are very open. And it’s not certain that this type of situation can happen in every team.”
Of course, winning and losing will reflect the mood of a manager, but at this moment in time, Conte is delighted with the work rate of his side, and their eagerness to take new ideas on board.
Spurs have work to do to finish in the top four, as they are currently in eighth spot. However, bet365 are offering an intriguing price of 11/4 for them to secure a Champions League berth come May.
Meanwhile, Kane is at a rather long price of 33/1 with Paddy Power to finish as the Premier League’s top scorer – Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah is currently 11 goals ahead of him in the race for the Golden Boot!
Transfer window frustration
By all accounts, Tottenham didn’t have a bad transfer window. Although they may have sold four players, including Dele Alli, they brought in two new players – Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur from Juventus – and the pair have already made an impression, in particular, Kulusevski, who scored the opener against City.
In the past, Conte has railed against the board for not giving him what he has wanted, and ultimately, he has decided to jump ship and go elsewhere. He provided a particularly withering assessment of Spurs’ transfer business earlier this month, as he hinted that the club may be technically weaker.
He said: “The vision, the philosophy of the club is this. It is inevitable that if you want to grow faster and if you want to be competitive more quickly, you need players with a lot of experience because they also lead to an increase in experience in your team.”
Daniel Levy may well have been troubled by some of Conte’s management, but to retain the loyalty of a world-class coach, you need to provide him with the tools to succeed in his job. Levy needs to listen to Conte, and try and pander to his needs, well within reason!
Will Conte continue Tottenham project next season?
Conte is clearly an ambitious man, and perhaps he has sometimes been misunderstood about what his vision is. He has been a success wherever he has managed, and he needs time to implement his ideas to help Spurs get to where they need be.
Spurs need to tap into Conte’s knowledge and make the most of him while he’s in charge. However, if Spurs don’t make the top four this season, it will give Conte plenty of food for thought over the summer to determine whether his future remains in London in the long term.