September 28, 2022

Has Antonio Conte finally brought peace to Tottenham?

Antonio Conte has brought la lull for Tottenham after all?
Picture: AP

It’s pretty obvious that a team has a habit, even reputation or history, of being a fan when their very name is used as a definition of it. “Spursinees” is a term that has been around since almost the beginning of the Premier League, which makes it clear what everyone thinks about Tottenham. No matter how good things look on the surface, no matter what’s right on the doorstep, something will happen and it will almost certainly be theirs. Nobody gets their toes out like the Spurs. This is a team that can miss out on a Champions League spot on the last day of a season when the entire team literally bursting themselves. Or sour a relationship with maybe the the most brilliant manager they ever had. Or fail to hire another great manager because he wanted too much money and power, search and find another manager who isn’t right for the job, and then have to go back to the first guy anyway. And all this happened only in the last few years!

However, on the eve of the new Premier League season, all is quiet on the Spurs front. There is no transfer drama surrounding Harry Kane like last year. There is no uncertainty in the manager’s chair, however stable that chair may be when Antonio Conte sits in it. There are high expectations…except they’re all perfectly reasonable given where Spurs finished last year, what they’ve done this summer and the relative state of the clubs they’ll likely be competing with for Champions League places.

Where once there was anxiety, dread and disgust, there is only excitement, contentment and confidence. What is happening here; We may need Conte to throw a punch to get us back on track.

The serenity surrounding Spurs stems from a fairly efficient and well-planned summer transfer window, as well as their 4th place finish last season. It also helped that they closed hard on the outside to catch fellow North Londoners Arsenal to the wire. Nothing satisfies them like this. The Spurs knew what they had to add, they did it quickly and everything was almost settled before they even returned for pre-season training.

Depth up front was assured with Richarlison coming in from Everton. While he may not start when Kane, Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski are healthy, Spurs will play plenty of games with Champions League commitments (especially this season as the entire group stage will be crammed before World Cup) and Richarlison can slot into any of the three attacking spots in Conte’s set-up. It won’t go stale on the counter. They added more depth on the wing with the free transfer of Ivan Perisic, a Conte favorite from Inter who can be a wing forward or winger depending on the day. The midfield has been thinned out with the capture of Yves Bissouma from Brighton, and although he is a bit like Pierre-Emile Hǿjbjerg or Harry Winks, he is too good for a heavy schedule.

Even the defense has been hit by the rebuilding work of Clement Lenglet, who had his representative almost crushed among the rubble of Barcelona’s what-have-you, but he’s still the player who arrived at the Nou Camp in the first place and is a regular. with the French team. If anyone can make him reach his full potential, it’s Conte.

It all added up to a team that closed with a flourish. Spurs won eight of their last 11 games last season, including a draw at Anfield and club sides both Arsenal and West Ham along the way. They didn’t lose to either Liverpool or City last season, in fact, they won twice last season. Once Conte settled in after some very intense turmoil following his arrival at Tottenham (nothing can really be smooth with him or Spurs), Spurs looked almost the third best team in the country and finished just three points behind Chelsea. Considering how Spurs’ summer has gone and the way Chelsea have been, it’s no wonder more than a few are wondering if Spurs are going to slip away this time around, rather than joining Liverpool’s gated community and of City. .

Richarlison’s signing makes Spurs more injury-proof to Son and Kane than ever before. Both are sure to miss time somewhere down the line, and usually, that meant the goals dried up for Tottenham. Richarlison is used to driving alone with Everton and can certainly fill that gap if needed.

If there’s one area that seems a little short, it’s the creativity from the midfield. There are a lot of destroyers and forts there without much inspiration, although there is more in Hǿjbjerg to mine if they want. But Conte’s sides prefer to keep the center of midfield a safety zone rather than an art museum, preferring to attack at high speeds through the wing-backs and forwards, which Spurs certainly have more than enough of. Maybe when they face teams that are happy to camp around their own box and just give Spurs the ball they will struggle, but that’s no guarantee.

Of course, this is Spurs and this is Conte. When something goes wrong for either of them, it tends to go wrong in a hurry right behind it. It’s just hard to see where this could go with this team. Chelsea still need a lot of help after what they lost this summer. Arsenal look very tasty but have been on a par with Spurs of late and their improvements are no more than Tottenham have made. Nobody has any idea what United will be. Conte’s record in Europe is still very patchy, but Spurs don’t expect to win the Champions League this season anyway. This is a team that has completely bought into what Conte is selling, and when that happens trophies tend to follow (see: Juventus, Chelsea, Inter). It might not last long, given Conte’s tendency to get antsy pretty quickly, but for now, it sure looks like it’s all systems go. And even if he does, former favorite manager Mauricio Pochettino is practically pacing outside Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium waiting for him to volunteer to take his place.

Spurs a smooth sailing ship. Strange days indeed. The weirdest thing, mom.

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