Back in late October, it wasn’t easy to find anyone who was overly bullish about Tottenham’s prospects in 2022.
Spurs fans were bracing themselves for a difficult transition period, guided by a head coach whose ideology clashed with the club’s and whose track record and attitude did not inspire trust. The most Spurs fans could expect under Nuno Espirito Santo was for the Portuguese to steady the ship and start setting the foundations for victory at the end of another three-year or four-year cycle; 2022 appeared to be another year of painful reconstruction.
What a difference seven weeks can make. Or, to put it another way, what a difference Antonio Conte can make.
Spurs’ players, supporters, and staff are now bubbling with optimism about the future under the new head coach, and betting odds are swinging in favour of the London outfit.
Antonio Conte, the current manager of Tottenham Hotspur, is well-known for his ability to turn around the fortunes of some of Europe’s finest teams. It’s safe to say he came to north London with a lot of pressure on his shoulders.
The 52-year-old Italian is a serial winner, having won four Serie A crowns and one Premier League trophy. He expects hard effort, aggression, and energy from his sides, which we saw a lot of in Tottenham’s recent 2-2 draw with Liverpool.
So much improvement so far
Spurs had a lackluster offensive line and a vulnerable defense under Nuno Espirito Santo. After winning just nine of his 17 games in charge, the former Wolves boss was fired after a 3-0 home loss to Manchester United, and Conte was brought in the next day.
Since then, the former Inter Milan manager has only lost twice in nine games across all competitions, and will view the Carabao Cup as an ideal opportunity to end their 13-year drought for silverware after their 2-1 win over West Ham on Wednesday night set up a semi-final clash with Chelsea.
Despite being tasked with improving their goal-scoring record, superstar forward Harry Kane has only scored twice this season, with the team wasting 21 ‘great opportunities’ in the league thus far.
Conte has complimented the England captain in the media during his stint thus far, but if Spurs are to move further up the table in the second half of the 21/22 season, he will need to assist the 28-year-old rediscover his best form.
What lies in store?
Despite being ousted from the UEFA Conference League in an unceremonial manner, Tottenham Hotspur’s efforts in the league were far from satisfactory.
Mauricio Pochettino guided Tottenham to the Champions League final only two seasons ago, and the team’s decline since then has been evident to everybody.
The expense of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium is reportedly eating into Daniel Levy’s expenditure on the club, but the Lilywhites are still in contention for two cups (the FA and the Carabao), as well as a top-four finish.
Conte is no stranger to an FA Cup final triumph, having led his Chelsea team to glory following an Eden Hazard penalty back in 2018.
Tottenham face tough competition from the likes of Arsenal, West Ham, and Manchester United, to mention a few, in the top four, and will have to be at their best to assure a return to Europe’s elite football tournament.
Conte has preached patience, believing that laying a foundation is more vital than chasing trophies right now, but he has a reputation for winning — and winning quickly. Conte understands Spurs still need to upgrade the team considerably. He will want Daniel Levy and Fabio Paratici to spare no time in demonstrating the benefits of working under him.
As a result, the January transfer window will be telling, as it will demonstrate how fast Conte can get Spurs contending at the top.
Spurs already appear to be on track for a return to the Champions League next season, as well as a shot at a domestic cup (or perhaps the Europa Conference League, if the team wins any appeals). Conte will also want to compete for the most prestigious awards, including the League.
Conte has won five titles in his past seven seasons as a coach, but there are no assurances for Spurs, especially considering the Premier League’s strong competitiveness and their opponents’ greater financial resources. There’s also the possibility of a fight between the explosive Italian and Levy. Levy is not the easiest person to work with, and there is evidence that former managers have gotten tired of dealing with him after a while. At the very least, managing director Fabio Paratici provides a helpful buffer and a well-organized contact list.
Conte is regarded as one of the best managers in the world, and his appointment has the potential to accomplish for Spurs what Jose Mourinho failed to do for them: carry them to a trophy and solidify their place among Europe’s elite.