The Italian serial winner knows the feel of titles and has won everywhere he has been, by the stature of the club, and in the real context of triumph
Last season, Antonio Conte could have whined for a living. Every Tottenham defeat came with subtle jibes thrown at the Spurs hierarchy as he called for support.
His motive was clear, as shown in every club he has managed – the presence of financial muscle is significant to on-field success. He has his style, and players that can fit in seamlessly into those systems. And they don’t come cheap.
At Chelsea, he struggled to hit the ground running but once he did, the world understood he’d built a team that’d be hard to crack. He won the league title in his first season in English football, a feat the best managers in the division today didn’t manage when they joined the Premier League.
Conte’s restoration of Tottenham’s delight, getting players to dig deeper after that slump last season must be credited for the manner in which the Italian pulled it.
202 Days – Antonio Conte's first season at Spurs.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) July 2, 2022
The man on the bench
“Did you believe top 4 was possible?” Conte was asked by the Tottenham media, and his answer was a resounding “Yes”. That’s his level as a manager. He always wants to win.
He brings a mix of Guns and Roses to every club he goes to. When he has his way, he’s as sweet as a sleeping baby, and when he’s not, he’s pulling the trees.
His presence sparks belief at Tottenham. Harry Kane is no longer talking about moving out of the club, as he sees a man convincing enough for confidence on the bench. The club can attract players who will work for the team because they have a manager known for success.
It is 14 years since Spurs last won a trophy, and coincidentally, it happened against Chelsea, the team Conte won the Premier League with. The need for something to cheer is long overdue at Tottenham.
In those fourteen years, they’ve established themselves as one of the biggest clubs in London and in England and played in the UEFA Champions League finals. For a club of Tottenham’s stature, these are not small achievements.
After significant investments by the ENIC Group, it’s expected that the club would win something for their long-waiting fans.
Conte’s acquisition model this season is instructive. He’s building Tottenham to be the dark horses for the title, if his players can come to the party. A target must be to win something, at least.
From destroyers to attackers – what’s Conte cooking?
Yves Bissouma is one of the best defensive midfielders in the Premier League and many Arsenal fans feel hard done that the Malian is headed to their city rivals. He’s a top recruitment for the team and promises to make Tottenham a lot more solid.
He stands out as one of the best tacklers in the league and has enough ball-playing skill to gel in a team that will do much of that. At Brighton, the system is based on ball possession and fast, intricate passing. He may have a lot of those skills to inject into his game at Tottenham.
A partnership of Bissouma and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg is as promising as they come.
While same may not be said of Ivan Perisic especially in a league known for its pace and directness, a player of his level and experience is just as important. Conte knows him having managed him at Inter Milan, and that’s an added advantage.
By far their biggest addition, Richarlison is as young, daring and itching to make a bigger impact as anyone in the league. His progress has been steady since spending one season at Watford and moving on to Everton in a £50m move. He has made two big-money moves since Watford and is at Tottenham after a £60m move. And it’s not risky to dream at the point in time.
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) July 1, 2022
Playing next to Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son will make Richarlison a more efficient player and if he hits the ground running, they’ll be as dangerous as they come.
Fraser Forster is an experienced goalkeeper across the British Isles. From Scotland to England, he has shown he’s of the top stock and can be incredible.
Hugo Lloris is a Tottenham cult hero and having a younger British goalkeeper as his understudy must be reinvigorating to the Frenchman. It also directly raises the level of competition between the sticks.
After struggling to tie down a shirt at Barcelona, Clement Lenglet’s acquisition looks suspect but in Conte’s typical 3-4-3 or 3-5-2 system, Lenglet may be hugely impressive as there will be great cover for him.
What Conte is building at Tottenham is impressive and the club’s faithful can hope. On paper, it looks like a bulwark, but the real work will happen on the pitch.
Tottenham have a man capable of winning in charge, and they have players who can win at the moment. It’s high time the drought is ended. It’s time they made a mark. Conte can make a difference but patience must be a watchword.