Antonio Conte celebrates a year in charge of Tottenham Hotspur subsequent week, but all indicators are starting to recommend it will not be a pleased anniversary.
The former Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan coach has been a accomplishment so far, in relative terms at least, by salvaging a seemingly hopeless circumstance when arriving at the club final November. By the finish of the season he had guided the group into the Champions League on the back of a late run that saw Spurs overtake Arsenal in the final week to claim fourth spot.
Conte did what Conte does. He is the ultimate swift-repair coach — he brings fitness and organisation, demands absolute concentrate and commitment from his players, and that blueprint enabled Spurs to climb from ninth position on the day he arrived to fourth, with a two-point cushion, at the finish of the campaign.
That achievement enabled Conte to demand, and get, robust backing in the summer season transfer marketplace when Spurs invested more than £150 million in new players — such as forward Richarlison, midfielder Yves Bissouma and defender Cristian Romero (whose loan was produced permanent) — to transform the group from 1 with leading-4 ambitions to a side which could challenge for the Premier League title.
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Yet in spite of overseeing Tottenham’s ideal-ever start out to a Premier League season, current final results have drastically lowered expectations and the storm clouds that are in no way far away from Conte are starting to return. The initial sugar rush that his teams generally look to appreciate when he requires more than has began to put on off and history shows that the trajectory of final results and supporter satisfaction only tends to go in 1 path when the 53-year-old loses that early impetus.
It is why Manchester United rejected the possibility to pursue Conte a year ago when Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was losing his grip on the manager’s job at Old Trafford. Sources told ESPN that the club hierarchy wanted to stay away from hiring Conte since of the brief-term nature of his coaching profession and the concern that his solutions would perform for only so lengthy with United’s players.
But could United’s misgivings about Conte be starting to seem at Tottenham? The subsequent week ought to highlight irrespective of whether the cracks that are beginning to show can be smoothed more than or if they will come to be even larger.
Saturday’s trip to Bournemouth is a ought to-win game on the back of two straight league defeats, whilst Tuesday’s final Champions League group game against Marseille at Stade Velodrome is a different which Spurs can not afford to drop. And then comes the take a look at of Liverpool a week on Sunday — a group that have been faltering, but 1 that are unbeaten in ten games against Spurs dating back to October 2017.
With Spurs fans now starting to complain about Conte’s style of football, with the nostalgic glow of Mauricio Pochettino’s teams placing the Italian’s side in an unfavourable light, a failure to emerge from the present malaise in these games will enhance the scrutiny on the coach.
Conte’s reaction to Harry Kane’s VAR-disallowed winner against Sporting CP on Wednesday — which earned him a red card from the referee — highlighted his growing aggravation. And it is a aggravation borne out of his team’s repeated failure to show they are in a position to take the step towards getting a winning group rather than an unreliable and inconsistent 1.
Quite just, when Spurs have been asked to make a statement this season, they have failed. Conte’s group have lost against Arsenal, Manchester United and Newcastle — 3 direct rivals for the leading 4 — and their indifferent kind in the Champions League has left them travelling to Marseille subsequent Tuesday needing to stay away from defeat to qualify for the knockout stages.
Injuries have undoubtedly hampered the team’s progress, especially with Dejan Kulusevski sidelined considering that mid-September and Richarlison struggling to recover ahead of the World Cup subsequent month, but the inescapable truth about Spurs is that they stay completely reliant on the ambitions of Kane and Conte has accomplished nothing at all to alter that. The England captain has scored 11 ambitions in 15 games — such as ten of the side’s 23 in the league — and is carrying the group when once again. If Conte can not come across a way to spread the target-scoring burden about the group, Spurs will be on a tightrope till the finish of the season.
Being coached by Conte is usually a tightrope existence for the clubs that employ him since of the way he operates and his difficult character. There is seldom a sense of calm with Conte, rather a permanent state of simmering tension with players, senior figures, match officials or supporters.
The uncertainty more than his future at Spurs — his contract expires at the finish of the season, with Spurs getting a 1-year choice to extend — does not lend itself to the calmness that is expected and the group now appear to be getting into the state of flux that at some point impacts all of his sides. The storm clouds are starting to rumble and Conte’s initially anniversary subsequent Wednesday will be accompanied by the soundtrack of thunder if Marseille send Spurs crashing out of the Champions League.