Think back to Sunday 26th September 2021; Tottenham had just lost 3-1 away at the Emirates against the Woolwich Wanderers, and the board were gearing up to sharpen their knives again in Nuno Espírito Santo’s direction..
Whilst any defeat against ‘that lot’ is hard to swallow at the best of times, it was a performance that highlighted our team’s complete lack of discipline, fight, and commitment. Individual errors galore littered our game once again, whilst our midfield was nothing more than a welcome mat for the opposition to wipe their boots on.
It took another miserable performance against Man United at home before the plug was finally pulled on Nuno but make no mistake, the irreversible damage was done against the scum. After a hopeless, embarrassing summer in pursuit of a successor to Jose Mourinho, who on Earth would, or could, we turn to next to try and restore some desperately needed dignity to the club!?
Fast forward 1 year on, and amazingly we find ourselves in the last 16 of the Champions League and averaging 2 point per game (CL qualification form) under the formidable transformation of Antonio Conte. A team that now plays with the discipline, fight and commitment we all demand. All of this has been achieved with a handful of key players played into the ground, and whilst the injuries have slowly been mounting up, I think we have survived well up to this point considering the gruelling schedule and intensity of games played. It’s been an Herculean effort of physical stamina and endurance, as well and one that should surely be roundly applauded!?
All this cause for optimism under a proven winner is proving too much for some though. Some punters are not happy and demand some ‘flair’. Gaining success on the pitch in 2 of the toughest competitions in Europe with players falling to bits, flogging their guts out in every game is just not good enough it seems. I know some performances have been a tough watch this season, but can we not put it into some kind of context!? It’s been a crazy season of non stop football with much more to come! This kind of attitude puts me in mind of a parent having to forgo buying themselves a bottle of lager at the end of a long, hard week with the last couple of quid they have left, opting instead of buying their child a bag of sweets to be told by said child, “I don’t like that flavour” and chucking them straight in the bin! I’m of the opinion that if it wasn’t ‘them’ sitting at the top of the table at the moment, this tiny undercurrent of discontent might be a little less inaudible than it is at the moment. Everyone is entitled to their opinion of course, but I’d rather support a successful coach rather than get on his back. Moan yes – we all do, but moan in the right direction.
As ever, context is our friend, and comparing and contrasting with clubs in and around us can be helpful…
COMPARISON OF MINUTES PLAYED BY THE TOP SIX MOST IMPORTANT PLAYERS AT TOTTENHAM, ARSENAL & MAN CITY
Lloris – 1,710
Romero – 1,091
Hojbjerg – 1,600
Bentancur – 1,512
Son – 1,489
Kane – 1,698
Ramsdale – 1,170 (-540, 6 games)
Saliba – 1,246 (+155, 1.72 games)
Xhaka – 1,423 (-177, 1.96 games)
Partey – 843 (-669, 7.43 games)
Saka – 1,228 (-261, 2.9 games)
Jesus – 1,192 (-506, 5.58 games)
Ederson – 1,530 (-180, 2 games)
Ruben Dias – 1,378 (+285, 3.16 games)
Cancelo – 1,476 (-124, 1.37 games)
Rodri – 1,428 (-84, 0.93 games)
De Bruyne – 1,295 (-194, 2.15 games)
Haaland – 1,264 (-434, 4.82 games)
The stats above are pretty telling – Arsenal’s amazing league run up to this point is in no small part due to the fact that they’ve been given the license to rest key players in the Ropey League. Even though City’s key players minutes are more comparable to our own, it would take an idiot not to realise that they are far better equipped to make rotations without the wheels falling off, performance-wise. Amazingly, we are currently just 3 points behind City having played 1 game more but as far as squads are concerned, it really is ‘us and them’ to a vast degree. The current financial constraints under ENIC have made it so.
Unlike many supporters, I am pleased that Conte is unwilling to sign a new contract for the moment. By doing this, he is not allowing Levy to pin him down and weaken his position at the negotiating table with regard to transfers. Having a manager with power over his chairman should largely be considered a good thing where supporters are concerned. This should hopefully see football take precedence over finance, or at the very least, tip the odds in a more favourable direction. Antonio is very much on the side of ‘us’ – the fans.
If Pochettino was a magician, then Conte is a wizard to be where we are at the moment, both on and off the pitch. However, we have been squeezing the pips out of these same players for far too long, and the squad will be in desperate need of a boost post-World Cup if we want to have any chance of competing with the likes of City for the top honours this season.
The enforced break in the season is a golden opportunity to get our ducks in a row and plan a route to success, this season and beyond. If the manager is shown ambition and commitment from those upstairs, I’m convinced he’ll achieve great things with us. I was frustrated that we didn’t sign Bastoni this summer as I felt this would have finally symbolised a changing of the guard – A player brought into the fold by Conte at Inter and proven under his stewardship, as opposed to someone we’ve been linked with countless times before, under countless managers. There were also ITK rumblings that he didn’t fancy Leicester’s James Maddison; a player that contributed 18 goals and 12 assists last season, a player that can dictate a game from midfield, a player capable of scoring a direct free kick or goal from distance. Now we all know old Antonio can be a bit of a tactical stickler, but he’s not stupid. I don’t buy that one, and nor was Daniel Levy who may see him in a better light once his contract has a bit less time to run in a few months time..
So, next time you feel narked about us not playing free-flowing football but winning the game under Conte, think back to that dark day at the Emirates. Buying better players will ultimately buy us better performances as well – it’s all part of the dreaded ‘process’.
Conte always talks about everyone staying together and that is so important. Don’t let those tiny murmurings start to groundswell and give him a reason to move back to Juventus. Stick together (that includes you, Daniel) and success can follow. I think Arsenal will falter, but that’s up to ‘them’ and has nothing to do with ‘us’.
Don’t let this ‘us and them’ mentality cloud your judgement – we’re better than that.
BS like that was said about Walker & Trippier as well. In a stronger team Dier would do just fine.
HH provided a lot of context in his piece which you are chosing to ignore. Fatigue will play a big part in the apparent individual mistakes that lead to goals against. But the truth is that it’s a series of errors by various players that lead to the opposition scoring. Some players really don’t seem to be at the level required but Dier isn’t one of them.
A verbal agreement with Levy might as well not take place. You need to get that f*cker nailed down by an expert lawyer before you go any further. However, levy would walk away if he was required to commit to spending a flipping penny on the team.
What a load of rubbish. I admire Conte but he is not the coach for Spurs. His style of football is eminently suited to the European leagues where he has flourished. Our results are lucky to say the least. Without that luck we would have lost another four or five PL matches and missed the final 16 in the CL. We are incredibly boring and embarrassing to watch. We are hopeless against a decent team and will be flogged by AC Milan in the CL Final 16. What’s Conte going to do against them or Man City or Arsenal, whoever? Park the bus and hope their shooting is off! That isn’t a tactic. I’ve been a Spurs fan 66 years and rarely have I seen a Spurs side so lacking in … anything. There is the basis of a great team but it will never show under Conte. I hope he goes at the end of the season and we get somebody who will allow us to play football again.
Ultimately if your not winning trophies you need to pay top dollar wages & scout/recruit well… we have largely failed In all 3 😏
Absolutely spot on sir.
Conte has oy been at the club a year, inheriting an inadequate squad some of whom most quite rightly in some respects want rid of & he has said himself he needs 2 or 3 windows to assemble a squad strong enough to challenge & STILL the constant doom & gloom of negativity & pessimism lives on in too many.
He is the best manager Spurs have had for decades, he is a proven winner & given the TIME which too many don’t appear to wish to give him, he’ll get it right.
The football currently is a product of Conte making Spurs tougher to beat, more resilient, confident & far less ‘Spursy’ than they’ve been since the 90’s.
But yes, look at the Premier League table, be thankful Spurs are through the group stage of UCL & who cares it’s not been fanciful.
Levy has put himself in a corner, he has to & will continue to back Conte now the stadium is fully open (1st full season it has been) & Conte will demand what he wants.
Conte knows what he’s doing & the pressure is on Levy to ensure he has the same vision & ambition as him, otherwise like at other clubs, he could walk away for being lied to as he has stated, don’t buy into the press shite he only stays for 2 years, he’s said why he’s left certain clubs earlier than expected & fallen out with others & been sacked for the same reason.
The upcoming World Cup break will be a chance to re-assess & the January transfer window another opportunity to improve the squad so hopefully 2 or 3 transfers in & out are made &, the Spurs go marching on!
Certainly not with a handshake and a verbal agreement to spend hundreds of millions on new players…………………lol
I am not sure Enic (not Levy) are coining it in. They dont take money out as payment their MO was to build an asset that is worth in excess of a billion on the few millions they originally invested. From theor point of view the project has been a great success and that is why I will never accept a good word about them they are yet another leech investment company.
The good news for me is that their pride & joy will go down in value as other stadiums are built with even better technology.
Meanwhile THFC are stuck with Emerson in the RWB position a player who our arch rivals turned down.
3 players in Jan with a minimum 2 and you know Mr Levy I dont give a flying fig how much they cost or how difficult it is.
I see that FSG have put Liverpool up for sale with a mooted price of £4.5 billion. This probably explains why Klopp wasn’t backed in the last window. Any thoughts Daniel?
Sorry, but that’s total garbage…
There always a coach available who will take the huge salary and bonuses that Levy will pay. However, as we saw with Nuno, who was appointed out of desperation, there simply isn’t an endless supply of quality managers out there. All that felt like word had gotten around, that Levy had burned too many bridges, with Jose since even referring to Levy as ‘unique’ (a statement he had to quickly retract).
Conte was convinced to take the job as there wasn’t another job that well paid available for him at the time. All helped too by his relationship with Paraciti of course.
It always seems to be about the window dressing and packaging with ENIC, never the quality of the product, it’s reliability or it’s claim to ever be genuinely considered a premium brand. The longer time goes by with Pochettino out of work, the more it looks like his return is on the cards. I liked the way he worked, but why he would ever want to work for the bald midget accountant again, is beyond me…
Win silverware? At this point i will settle for a home win against top6 opposition.
We are all making the assumption we can get players.
What players would come to the club?
The top ones?
Poch was said he didn’t want a player that didn’t improve us.
Hitchens was on film telling us all, players don’t want to come to the club (though he phrased it as a calibre of player that will come to the club).
Through the summer we were consistently turned down by centre-backs.
But the stadium, the training ground.
Even the star player Kane, wanted out.
We are attractive to the player not good enough to be the top level or the 21-year-old.
But top players don’t want to come to the club.
It has to change at the top because brand Tottenham isn’t attracting the best.
Or no matter whatever the recruitment, all we will be cooking on is a candle.
Conte must be backed or leave, and in that case so should Kane and Son, just to show up our brilliant owners exactly for what they are.
Levy has determined in his wisdom that it is more economic to pay top dollar for a manager to paper over the cracks, rather than recruiting the top players to enable us to win silverware which is after all, the whole point I would have thought of owning a top six club. Reportedly, we are the eighth richest club in the world but it is hard to believe this when you see what’s on offer to the fans.
The fault clearly lies with Levy as the last transfer window, much lauded by a section of the fan base, has proven to be no more than an optical illusion but this is no surprise given the last twenty three years of Levy’s benign neglect of the playing staff. I have no idea whether Conte would play a more expansive game if he had better players, but he doesn’t and with Levy at the helm, never will do. I wonder whether his tantrums are borne purely out of frustration or whether he is orchestrating his exit deliberately by demonstrating his disapproval so publicly.
Under Poch, we played quick and entertaining football and whilst his critics will say he was ultimately unsuccessful, I cannot pretend that I did not enjoy this period in our history more than the current one. Where I do disagree with the guest writer is that playing entertaining football and winning trophies are not mutually exclusive.
I cannot pretend that I enjoy watching us this season and I have no idea why we start so slowly but Conte is not the problem here. As always, the elephant in the room is Enic and Levy. T’was ever thus.
While I agree that Conte not signing a new contract is good for all concerned, it’s nothing much more than a theory. It’s a theory that might make sense at another big club, but our owners have completely different priorities. I believe that Conte was brought in as a short term fix, to get us back into the lucrative Champions League but I’ve never been convinced that he would be part of building a team to challenge for honours.
We never build a team to challenge for honours, it’s all about getting punters in through the turnstiles and spending as little as possible to meet their expectations. On top of that, expectations are managed by the powers that be at the club. The ambition to be in the Champions League every year Is a real one, but any ambitions to push on from there and win important things and to be ever present and challenging, I can guarantee is not something that our owners are ever interested in.
Of course we can continue to hope, but we’ve been doing that for 23 years. And I’m bored with it, and I’m bored with hearing this endless optimism around the idea that they have some kind of master plan they’re not telling us about around some future world domination. They are there to redevelop North Tottenham, nothing else.
It is increasingly unlikely that either Conte and Kane will be at Spurs next season. I’d love to be wrong, but I’m a realist, not a fantasist…
Thank you, Donna
He got in another 8 players, mainly his choices.. He was backed
The problem for me is we’ve been here before ..not with all that’s written above but with Mourinho replacing Poch ..there always seems to be a coach available ..and atm that would be the punters favourite on the White Stallion. Most can see what Conte is trying to do ..with Royal and Sess hum..Conte is playing Levy well..but Levy will have to give him a hell of a reason to stay.
There are 2 questions that I think most people would like answered ..are the squad incapable of playing two halves of decent football in one game .and if we are going to invite pressure onto ourselves why do it with such a poor defence…and such poor wing backs.
AM needed Maddison..I think Dier causes more confusion than he is worth so for me he needs replacing…Spence may well get a run out v Forest ..hope he plays well…we could do with a decent rwb…
The motivation for a desperate man to hire Conte is only outweighed by the same man’s inability to see or take seriously the task in front of him..and the fact he thinks all other clubs will stand still while he, Levy pontificates..l look at Bentancour Kulu Romero ( when fit ) and I no longer believe in 13 million pound midfielders not good enough for Atalanta..but good enough for us..
It’s not that bad sonny. I do agree that aside from Romaro we need a whole new backline. Dier isn’t bad, but he’s error prone and not calm under pressure. Davies should be a squad player, Lenglet could be a minor upgrade, and the wingbacks e know about.
However, Conte did not help the situation today with a ridiculous starting 11 and a refusal to change it until it was too late.
Need 3 top class first teamers in January, right wing back, creative mid and a £60m+ centre half.
I normally put the reluctance to spend anything meaningful on good players at the heart of my beloved club’s inability to do anything meaningful under their current parasitic ownership. I’ve never been as upset as I was today. We saw a back five of highly paid players reach a level of incompetence I have rarely seen in a supposed top club. We spent millions punting on the two wing backs, we all know Dier is what it says on the tin, Davies a committed and very limited journeyman, Lenglet a failure at the level we aspire to be and Lloris went off at least three years ago. We are under a regime that is utterly incompetent. They are cheap, looking for the ‘next Bale’ in every deal they do (utterly unsuccessfully), yet they sell out the most expensive season tickets on the planet to folks with seemingly little idea we will never, ever compete with well-run clubs. I am out of hope Enic will ever go. Why would they? They are coining it in without having to win things. We have a top ground and training facilities doesn’t do it for me. We are failures and most of our fans seem happy with that. Baffled but absolutely dejected at this point. I hope Harry gets a dream move and wins something. He deserves it.
Both wouldn’t make the squad of the teams we compete with. Or indeed most PL teams in The top 12.
He has a paper-thin squad because he wasn’t backed?
I agree with HH back the damn manager we are nearly there and get rid of the likes of Dier and Sanchez those two is a must they will never come good enough is enough cheers.