Jamie Carragher has insisted that Tottenham Hotspur have not had a manager of Antonio Conte’s level since the legendary Bill Nicholson in the 1960s.
In less than two months in charge at Spurs, Conte has completely transformed the team both defensively and offensively.
Tottenham’s campaign looked like it was going to be a write off at the end of October but the Lilywhites are now back in the race for the top four and have made it to the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup.
Carragher admitted Spurs are unrecognisable now from the side they were under Nuno Espirito Santo.
The pundit said on Sky Sports’ Monday Night Football: “There has been a huge turnaround. Under the last manager Nuno Espirito Santo they were massively underperforming, there is no doubt about that. But we can actually look at the comparison and it has improved massively.
“It has improved in goals conceded. They were near the bottom of the table. Now they are top of the league. Distance covered is the one that everyone talks about because it almost feels like we are talking about a different team with the same names and same players. That is the impact that he has had.”
“We should also say that it has been a favourable start for Antonio Conte with five home games and one away and the average positions of the opposition. It was a tougher start for Nuno but there is no doubt they have another level of manager now.”
Carragher compared Conte’s system at Tottenham to the one Thomas Tuchel has implemented at Chelsea. He pointed out how opposing defences are being left exposed as they do not know whether to pick up Spurs’ number tens or their wing-backs.
Analysing Tottenham’s 3-0 win over Crystal Palace on Sunday, he said: “Watching them at the weekend, it took me back to Chelsea under Conte or even under Thomas Tuchel now with that 3-4-3. Lucas Moura with Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane, that is a formidable front three, with these wing-backs that play high and wide.
“Just the role that the two No 10s have, it makes it really difficult for those who pick them up. This is the problem that you have as the full-back, do you go with the wing-back or the No 10? The space is outside for the wing-back. We see that a lot with Tuchel’s team.
“Against Conte, against Chelsea now, you see it so often where the space is there for the wing-back, whether it is Marcos Alonso, Reece James, or, for Tottenham, Sergio Reguilon. I always feel that if you go with a back four against these top teams it is really difficult because this seems to happen a lot.”
Carragher insisted the Lilywhites now stand a good chance of gatecrashing the top four, and added that Conte is on a different level to the managers Spurs have had in the Premier League era.
He added: “The reason why I think Spurs have a really good chance of top four is that they have a really good manager. They have a manager who can go up against Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola and Thomas Tuchel.
“Look at his record. We are not talking about a guy who has been in the Premier League for half a season and had a good run. He has won the Premier League, he has won the FA Cup in his second season, and he has had a great start at Spurs.
“His win ratio puts him up there with the best Premier League managers. You think of Spurs and you probably have to go back to the most famous manager in the club’s history, Bill Nicholson who was the manager when they won the double in 1961.
“They have never had a manager of this level. People will say Jose Mourinho but it was not Mourinho in his prime. I think they have got a top manager in his prime right now and that is what gives them a realistic chance.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Even Mourinho’s biggest fans cannot deny that the Portuguese coach was on the wane when he arrived at Spurs. It is an experiment that failed spectacularly both on and off the pitch.
In Conte, we now have a head coach who is in the prime of his career. However, that is not a guarantee of success, especially given the other top managers the Italian is going up against in the Premier League.
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