Just like that, Antonio Conte is back in the Premier League but this time at Tottenham, following the sacking of Nuno Espírito Santo. After a rough start to the season, the Tottenham brass has decided to go with Conte to try to fix the current state of the club. It will be a tough task for Conte, as he will have to meld this broken squad into a team that can compete.


Following a 3-0 defeat to Manchester United, Tottenham decided to sack Nuno despite only hiring him this summer. In a bit of an ironic twist, it was Ole Gunnar Solskjær whose performance would lead to the hiring of Antonio Conte at Tottenham, despite Ole himself being rumored to be fired for Conte. This loss, although embarrassing, was not the main reason why the board wanted a new direction, rather it was the failures of the early season.

Currently sitting 9th and third in the Premier League and Europa Conference League respectively, it is safe to say that even the lowest of expectations for the club have failed to be met. Inconsistent play would mar the team, with performances swinging from week to week, going from a team that lost to Crystal Palace 3-0 to beating Manchester City 1-0.

Photo: Getty

Despite having Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min, Tottenham’s offense has only scored 9 goals so far this season. Not only is this underperforming their weak expected goals, but it’s also a total reversal from a team that finished 4th in the league for scoring last season. Nuno was never able to figure out the proper combination of forwards and supporting midfielders.

This summer marked the departure of long-time defensive stalwarts and the move towards young but experienced players with the hope that they could adapt to the league and form a defensive powerhouse. Just as in attack, this has been a failure throughout the season with the team shipping 16 goals which ranks amongst the bottom of the league. With all the new investments, this is again a failure of integrating the players into the squad in the correct roles and positioning.


Antonio Conte’s hiring is both surprising and exciting, as he will definitely undertake a long project to turn this team around which should excite Tottenham fans. It is surprising, not for Tottenham, but for Conte, who has usually joined a team in the offseason to shape them with the brass helping him set a path forward.

A Juventus legend as a player, he would be the coach that delivered the club its first trophy of the 2010s, after transitioning the club from total chaos to one of Europe’s powerhouses once more. At Juventus, he was given complete control of the project and was able to develop players like Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal amongst others. This total control allowed him to focus on training his players and transforming them into winners.

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In each successive season at Juventus, following his first one in 2011, he was able to take the team to new heights in both the Serie A and European competitions. Although his successor Massimiliano Allegri would take the club even further than Conte had, it is impossible for the club to have reached those heights without the guidance of Conte in the early 2010s.

In a trend that he replicated with the Italian national team, Chelsea and Inter Milan, Conte has become known as a coach who will come in and transform the team into contenders within a season. He has inherited each team in a state of turmoil and through his rigid training and philosophy, has found a formula that allows for player development and a path towards success.


Conte famously uses a variation of a 3-5-2 or a 3-4-3, which is a throwback to the traditionally defensive Italian teams of the 70s and 80s. He also requires total commitment to defensive play, another hallmark of Italian coaching, which yields very intensive matches and training sessions. All this leads Tottenham fans to wonder how the team will suit up under Conte.

At his last coaching job at Inter, Conte used the 3-5-2 formation the most, so that is the formation that should be expected at Tottenham. The three at the back will likely be Cristian Romero, Davinson Sánchez and Eric Dier, as they are the best players suited to play that back three at the club. Conte expects his defenders to be both physical and excellent with the ball at their feet, the best example of this is the historic BBC(Bonucci, Barzagli and Chiellini) of Conte’s Juventus sides.

The midfield will be more of a toss up but the wingback positions will likely be filled out by Sergio Reguilón and Emerson, as they are both great in the attack and defense. Pierre Højbjerg will likely  play a more deep role, the Pirlo position, with Giovani Lo Celso playing more advanced, connecting the defense to the attackers in a role similar to Claudio Marchisio. However, the third midfielder in the Pogba role is more of a toss up, with Tanguy Ndombele likely preferred over Dele Alli as he has more box-to-box qualities than Alli.

Photo: Getty

Harry Kane will without a doubt be one of the 2 attackers with Conte heaping praise on him in the past. Son should be the other forward in the attack, as he could play the Lautaro Martínez role to Kane’s Lukaku, giving a faster and more technically gifted dimension to the attack. The great thing about these two players and Tottenham’s depth of forwards is that Conte could easily change between formations going from 2 to 3 at the top at a whim.

Conte’s arrival  at Tottenham should excite fans, as he is a proven winner who can develop players while getting the best out of veterans. While this is the coaching move they should have made during the summer, this is a great step in the right move for the club. Conte’s first match in the Premier League will be against Everton on Sunday, as he looks to guide the club back towards a European competition spot.

 

Featured Image: Tottenham Hotspur

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