We look at some of the key talking points surrounding the appointment including his track record and transfer targets
Football is never short of surprises. Yesterday we got another big one. Former Chelsea, Juventus and Inter Milan boss Antonio Conte has been appointed as the new manager of Spurs. Chairman Daniel Levy acted fast in dismissing Nuno Espirito Santo after only 17 games in charge and equally fast in appointing his successor just days later. Conte comes in as a serial winner, an expert tactician and a master motivator. On the surface he looks like just what the Tottenham dressing room needs. There are however some caveats to this good news. The passion which so clearly emanates from the Italian can sometimes manifest itself in negative ways, leading to claims that he is hot-headed and argumentative. However, the good surely outweighs the bad here and fans will be over the moon to know that their players will be getting some much needed direction and drive from one of the best coaches on the planet.
Spurs have appointed Conte on an 18 month contract, with an option to extend, following a failed attempt to bring him in during the summer transfer window. A calamitous few months saw them approach and fail to secure one name after another before finally settling for former Wolves boss Nuno. This must be part of the reason why the Portuguese struggled to leave an imprint on the team. When you know you're not first choice, and your players now that too, that can't be a good environment to work in. Conte said that he was too emotionally connected to Inter, who he had just left, to join Spurs in the summer, but now he's ready to return to coaching. Unlike with Nuno, those Spurs players will know very well that Conte is first choice. Alongside Tuchel, Guardiola and Klopp, Conte is an elite manager and one who will command the utmost respect from the first second he walks through the door.
Since the turn of the century Tottenham have appointed some managers with decent pedigrees. Harry Redknapp had won the FA Cup with Portsmouth. Andre Villas-Boas had won the Europa League with Porto. Mauricio Pochettino hadn't won anything but his stellar work at Espanyol and Southampton put him on the radar of many clubs as one of the most promising coaches in the world at that time. It wasn't until Mourinho that they brought in a proven, consistent winner. The now manager of Roma gets much deserved criticism but perhaps doesn't get enough credit for the outrageous trophy cabinet he has assembled. The worrying thing about his tenure at Tottenham was not the fructuous relationship with some of the players, or the at times very negative football. The key problem was that for the first time since his days at Porto, Mourinho didn't win anything.
This inconvenient truth begs the question: can Spurs win anything of significance in the modern era? Is Antonio Conte the man to do it? If Mourinho couldn't, why should we believe that Conte can? While the near misses in the Premier League and Champions League under Pochettino, and the failure under Mourinho, do make some feel that perhaps it will never happen for The Lilywhites, there is a key difference to be noted. As fantastic a manager as Mourinho is and was, he has been on the decline for years. Peak Jose hasn't been seen since his last Premier League triumph with Chelsea some seven years ago. What has followed has been a disappointing spell at Man United, in which he won some trophies but showed clear signs of regression, and an even more depressing time at Spurs. Conte, on the other hand, during that same time, has won the Premier League with Chelsea and Serie A with Inter. Antonio Conte knows how to win trophies right now, not a decade ago. He is very much in the prime of his career. While the game seems to be leaving Jose behind, Conte seems to be very much up-to-date with tactical trends and rhythms.
One charge that is often levelled at Conte and Mourinho alike is that they can't and won't be successful without being allowed to spend huge sums of money. While there is truth in the fact that Conte does not partake in projects which he doesn't deem ambitious enough, the statistics show that it's not as simple as just saying "he can't win without spending money". The Italian will want money to spend of course. He will want to bring in his own players, but he will also greatly improve the ones already there. He's a fantastic coach with a clear philosophy. When compared to other elite coaches, he spends a similar amount of money or less to achieve similar goals. His temperament means that he won't be the easiest to work with and will likely cause Levy some headaches but they won't actually need to break the bank to see results, as many believe.
Of course transfer rumours are already flooding Twitter with everyone speculating over who he might want to bring in. There's been everything from jokes and banter to well thought out, genuine predictions. Some have mockingly claimed that Victor Moses will likely be at the top of the list. Spurs fans are ecstatic about the prospect of Danish international Christian Eriksen returning to the club after he liked the Instagram post confirming Conte's arrival at his old club. Several of his other former players at Inter are understandably being heavily linked, most of all Dutch centre back Stefan de Vrij. It's tough to know exactly who will be on his Christmas list but for sure January will be a fascinating time to be a Spurs fan.
One debate raging on Twitter is about the perceived lack of loyalty which Conte has shown by joining Tottenham. Chelsea fans are in disbelief that another one of their most treasured managers has joined Spurs. While it's infuriating for many Blues fans, they can take solace from the fact that they have Thomas Tuchel at the helm, for sure one of the best coaches in the world. However, this trend isn't just about Chelsea. Many have pointed out on Twitter that this news is simply further proof that loyalty in general is dead in football, especially in the Premier League, with managers and players moving between rival clubs on a regular basis. It's easy for many supporters to become disillusioned and to think at times that players and managers just don't have any affinity with the clubs they represent anymore, and appointments like this one only strengthen that sentiment among fans.
We will have to wait and see how Conte will get on at Spurs. He is expected to make an immediate impact and get the most out of the quality already in the squad. Then come January he will surely strengthen and we should see further improvement. Whether he can take Spurs to a major trophy during these next 18 months remains to be seen.
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