Why Antonio Conte and Spurs’ awkward alliance needs fixing

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This ongoing internal tension Tottenham Hotspur Perhaps manager Antonio Conte has publicly called for consolidation and refused to commit to his future at the club beyond this summer. Anyone with a passing knowledge of the 53-year-old’s career will know that he’s no stranger to this kind of confusion, as he’s known for managing his reputation as a proven winner by keeping his employers honest. It usually ends violently.

Conte has never spent more than three years at a club since starting his managerial career at Arezzo in 2006. In recent times, he has had great success Juventus, Chelsea And Inter Milan — until disagreements with senior figures over future strategy contributed to the sudden departure.

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Spurs knew what they were signing up for — expecting anything different from Conte would be like getting a cat and barking. But the club felt there was a price to be paid for the drama if he was to deliver the one thing missing from modern-day Tottenham: trophies. After all, the other pieces are already there — a stunning £1 billion stadium, state-of-the-art training ground and why harryamulet England Captain for breaking individual goalscoring records for club and country.

Tottenham hired Conte not just to win any trophies — though it would be a start since their last piece of silverware came in 2008 — but to make a serious dent in the Premier League, and even the Champions League given that they reached the final less than four years ago. Given the lack of public comment from owners ENIC Group and chairman Daniel Levy, how closely the club’s hierarchy believed they would be challengers when Conte was appointed in November 2021. He must do more than they first expected when he was hired.

Conte has repeatedly spoken of the gap between Spurs and the top clubs and the need for significant, massive investment in the squad. after to lose per Aston Villa Last weekend, Conte described the final day of last season’s Champions League qualification as a “miracle”. — a view with some truth required a late fall from it Arsenal To help them along the line.

We are talking ahead of the league game on Wednesday Crystal palace, Conte kept flying between insisting he was happy at the club and hints he could leave if he wasn’t 100% sure about his future. That last part is effectively code for: “Back me the way I want or I’ll go and coach somewhere else.”

He calls for it from a position of relative strength, with his nine career trophies as a manager and 14 trophies as a Juventus player secured in knowledge giving his argument a weight that is hard to resist. Spurs have heard a significant amount. Steve Hitchens has been Spurs’ chief scout since 2017, but left in February last year — three months after Conte arrived — following the appointment of Fabio Paratici as head of football. Sources told ESPN that Hitchen felt marginalized by Paratici, as Conte’s close ally began to drive the club’s transfer strategy alongside Levy.

They also spent money, bringing in midfielders Rodrigo Bentancur and winger Dejan Kulusevski Around £145m was spent in the summer before last winter, which included the 33-year-old midfielder. Ivan PerisicTottenham’s acquisition due to his age and limited ability to increase his transfer value.

Conte wanted more. Of course he did. He always does, and he will this month. But the reason the excitement is rising is that, simply put, he should get more out of the players he already has at his disposal.

Tottenham’s football has been awful this season. Forward Heung-Min Son Well below his best with just three goals and two assists in 15 league games. Sources close to the club have questioned whether Conte’s grueling training sessions are fully suited to the physical demands of an intense, unprecedented mid-season World Cup.

Conte also has a mixed track record in developing young players and his desire to spend, mixed with a rush to deliver, has left some stuck in the middle — none more so than defenders. Grandpa Spence, a hugely promising talent signed for £19m, who made four Premier League appearances as a substitute for a total of seven minutes (plus added time). Conte has repeatedly described Spence as a “club signing”, indicating disagreement over transfer policy.

So, if there is even an acknowledgment that Conte is not a manager to stick around long-term, it begs the question: when results start to slide, what else is there to recommend him?

“We have to stick together and know that if we have time and patience, we are going to do well,” said Conte, who has a reputation as one of the more impatient managers of his generation.

Conte claims he is the one who has provided the building blocks for success and he insisted on Tuesday that he has always accepted that they cannot win immediately, which is what he is used to. “Now, the task is, my big challenge is: to continue to work so hard with my staff and players, to improve the club, to build a solid foundation,” he said.

But what is that basis? And does a club that has successively appointed Mauricio Pochettino, Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo and Conte as managers have a clear, lasting DNA to develop in the first place?

Conte would benefit from greater public visibility from Levy or even less likely from majority owner Joe Luiz in describing the club’s vision. Instead, that vacuum has been filled by fan vitriol, which has grown increasingly louder of late under Levy’s direction. This leaves Conte to defend a strategy he clearly does not fully believe in or, at the very least, is at odds with his past.

Conte’s focus now seems to be on the desire to win, as opposed to the recognition that Spurs want to build a core group with a strong mentality capable of winning trophies as they add more players. That would be similar to the long-term vision model City of Manchester or LiverpoolOne or two targeted-but-premium additions per summer.

Ultimately, while Conte insists he is fully invested in Tottenham’s strategy and will point to the compromises the club have already made in their exchange, the two sides are not truly united. This is perhaps inevitable in a marriage of convenience like this.

Either Conte needs to fully admit Tottenham are not a club that will spend endlessly in pursuit of glory, or Spurs need to be bolder in the transfer market. Otherwise this uneasy alliance will only grow more awkward with time.

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