It’s quite simply a huge week for Spurs.
Following two shaky performances in the league under Conte thus far, and a humiliating European defeat to Mura, this squad needs to put in a performance for their manager, and for their fans.
What ramps up the pressure even more is the fact that, by the Brentford game on Thursday, Spurs will have had a full week off, following Sunday’s postponement at Burnley.
So with two league fixtures within four days, and then a must-win European game against Rennes just four days after that, how should Conte juggle his side?
It’s clear that even if Spurs were to put in a flawless display against Brentford on Thursday, most managers would make some changes before Norwich visit the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
First of all, let’s decide which game is of greater importance. Two weeks ago, I would have said Brentford, all day long. They will come with the intention to score goals, and will inevitably put pressure on our defence at any opportunity.
But with Dean Smith at the helm, Norwich will be a different proposition. They have seemingly grown a backbone since Smith’s arrival, and are unbeaten in his two games so far.
He is known for attacking football, and his Aston Villa side caused us many problems in their two visits to N17 under him, including a comfortable win last season.
So the answer from me is, take your pick. In my opinion, Conte needs to factor in two things. Firstly, How much priority does he want to place on the Rennes match?
Spurs’ hope of progression already looks slim, so perhaps he may just abandon the Europa Conference League and look to address the league form and play his first-choice side in both games.
One can assume that this is the line-up that was announced prior to the abandonment on Sunday.
Secondly, how much of a reaction does he want to see from his team, after the shocker in Slovenia?
Regardless of putting out a relatively strong team, Spurs were once again, not at the races on the European stage. Conte doesn’t strike me as the type of manager to give players many chances.
So whereas one might normally expect a manager to rotate based on fatigue levels, we could see a situation where the line-ups for all three matches over the next week don’t at all feature players who contributed to the European car crash.
In particular, Davinson Sanchez, Dele Alli and Matt Doherty may not be at the front of Conte’s mind.
It’s certainly an interesting situation, and one which will reveal a lot about both what Conte sees as his competition priorities, and his famed ruthless management style.
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