Another international break has come and gone. Antonio Conte is at the helm, whilst fresh excitement and high hopes beckon once more.
The arrival of Antonio Conte breathed new life into the Spurs faithful. The Italian has become Tottenham Hotspur’s fourth manager in half the years, but this time feels more assured than the previous three occasions.
Two years ago yesterday Mauricio Pochettino was relieved of his duties as manager of Tottenham. The team was in vital need of a refresh, one the Argentine had been calling for, and the club was unknowingly entering free fall.
Jose Mourinho reported to duty as the new head coach of Spurs with calmness and confidence to the role that drew a lot of fans in. Admittedly, it took over a year for that belief to wither away. Alas, it withered.
Ex-Spurs midfielder and current first-team coach, Ryan Mason, was next up to the plate. Mostly having Spurs play a decent brand of football and relatively cool under the pressure of the intermediate role, it’s no wonder Conte has opted to have him amongst his coaching team.
Then came Nuno. And then left Nuno. A chorus of boo’s for a substitution could be labeled as the final nail in the coffin. Many, including myself, were unsure why he was ever in charge in the first place.
Now, for the first time in a long time, there seems to be a real excitement about Tottenham Hotspur again!
Antonio Conte has for the most part made an impressive start at Spurs. Immediately switching the tactics to favour his 3-4-3 formation, using Emerson Royal and Reguilon as wing-backs and bringing Ben Davies into a left centre-back role. One that Davies plays at an international level with Wales.
Tottenham have looked quicker, sharper, and far more composed on the ball than they had under Nuno and for the most part, Mourinho.
Tottenham starting to show elements of Conte
Our Conference League fixture at home to Vitesse displayed a variety of ‘Conte-Ball’ elements. Passing out from the back, patience on the ball, two touch pass and move, quicker counter-attacks, and far more urgency to close space down.
Against Everton, we were reminded that we lack an out-and-out playmaker fit for purpose in the Premier League. Spurs’ final ball continuously seemed off, and when moments of brilliance were needed, that Christian Eriksen styled player just didn’t seem to exist.
Tottenham did create opportunities to score. With Lo Celso hitting the woodwork late into the game, but aside from a relative control over possession and a hint of a more confident back-line, Spurs still cried out for a finishing touch.
Antonio Conte has had a couple of weeks to work closely with the players who failed to make their respective national team squads. This includes the likes of; Dele, Winks, N’Dombele, Tanganga, and Dier.
Dele and Winks are almost the most interesting of the bunch, especially following Conte’s comments that he hopes to get the best back out of Dele, as he believes there’s a player there, still.
Dele notoriously prospered as a second striker to Kane. Working the ball well with him, but also taking advantage of the space behind Kane that would develop from the opposition’s centre-backs fixating on Kane only.
As he began to get pushed further back towards CAM and then LCM, his ability and confidence faded. Mourinho momentarily re-introduced Dele further up the pitch, awakening him and bringing some form out of the player. Until once more, toying with his role in the Spurs starting 11.
Can Conte spark life back into the tricky forward once more? If there’s a manager out there that could do so, it would be him! Dele has a fantastic opportunity to feature against Leeds tomorrow as Lo Celso still can’t find form, and Conte has called on N’Dombele to work harder for his place.
Winks may be brought in to replace the suspended Oliver Skipp. An absence that will be felt. Skipp has been assured, efficient and impressive this season. All compliments that Harry Winks himself was praised with many years ago.
In the past two seasons, Winks has really failed to impress amongst the Spurs team, often looking either weak or nervous. Once more, if there’s a manager capable of bringing the best out of him, it’s Conte.
Ahead of tomorrow’s visit from Leeds United, you’d expect the formation and the tactics to stay the same as before the break. We could see any of Sanchez, Tanganga, or Rodon come into the back three for the injured Romero. I believe Winks will replace Skipp, and the front three will consist of Lucas, Son, and Kane.
Here’s to hoping we see Antonio Conte’s first league win tomorrow!