Opinion: The five reasons I think Tottenham are finally clicking under Conte

Antonio Conte
(Photo by Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images)

Tottenham Hotspur are winning games… consistently… while scoring lots of goals… and keeping clean sheets. Analysis and celebration is needed!

Spurs definitely seem to have turned a corner in recent weeks and are now in the driving seat in the race for the top four (even if I don’t want to say it out loud). I think there are a number of reasons behind this.

Number one: Time on the pitch. Conte came in mid-season. I think people underestimate how difficult it is as a manager to join a squad of strangers without any pre-season and instantly having to compete.

Of course, we had the new manager bounce as you so often see, but then Spurs fell into a pattern of inconsistency (win, lose, win, lose). Surprise surprise, the more time Conte has been given, the more consistent Spurs have become.

Remember, things have changed A LOT with Conte. Not only is it a new manager with new ideas, but he also changed the two biggest things about the squad – fitness and formation. Both of these take a huge amount of time to adapt to.

We’re 5 months into Conte’s reign and I still don’t think we have seen the peak of what this system can do. What we are seeing is a consistent improvement and players starting to align with the manager’s plans.

This brings me on to Number Two: The wing-backs. I have spoken about this before in my threads, but the wing-backs are the bread and butter of a Conte formation. Two thriving wing-backs means a thriving Spurs… the opposite means, well the opposite.

In the first two months, we saw Emerson and Reggy really struggling to adapt to the attacking output and the fitness needed to cover so much ground out wide. No insult to them there – this is a crazy thing to try and adapt to.

But now all four wing-backs are a whole lot fitter and a lot more accustomed to the timing of their runs, their positioning, patterns of play, their defensive roles, and their end product requirements.

As a result, we are seeing goals and assists from literally all four of them. Not only that, but we have seen a LWB assist a RWB and vice versa – the true mark that a wing-back system is really working.

Number Three: Recruitment. We’ve been talking about rebuilding at Spurs ever since the final Poch season. But the cut-throat rebuild we NEED is finally starting to happen, with Fabio Paratici at the helm.

Dele, Ndombele, and Lo Celso all leaving in January was a HUGE statement of intent that Spurs are prepared to shake things up and give Conte what he wants. And the incomings were even better!

Were they huge names? Were they sexy? Were people raving about them at the time? No, no and no. But Bentancur and Kulusevski have been nothing short of a revelation. Two players Conte and Spurs needed – hence why they have instantly improved the side.

They have all the Conte trademarks. Full of effort and work rate, neat and tidy on the ball, never bail on their defensive duties, and lead by example. I can’t remember the last time we have seen two new signings improve the starting XI overnight like this.

Number Four: Roles. No, not Jack Roles, but the Spurs players are finally understanding their individual roles in the team and now their pieces work towards the overall jigsaw. We are literally seeing this improve week-in week-out.

Hugo is improving with his feet. Dier is a leader and a creator from the back in the sweeper role. Romero is the aggressor. Davies underlaps in attack and remains solid at the back. Hojbjerg sits back when others burst forward…

The wing-backs get up and down all day long. Bentancur controls the tempo and finds the passes between the lines. Kulusevski cuts inside and uses his left foot to make room for the RWB overlap…

Kane roams around and finds pockets to pull the strings, and Son has finally found a hybrid role in this system that sees him play on the shoulder of the defence at times, as well as in the pocket.

And that is just a starting XI! The likes of Moura, Bergwijn and co off the bench have also been working extremely hard and adding lots of value towards the end of matches. It’s a real team effort that the moment.

And finally, Number Five – Consistency. For the first time in a good while, a Spurs manager has found consistency in his team selection, with the same XI starting most matches. This has accelerated Tottenham’s progress in this new system.

Without the side chopping and changing every single week, Spurs have been able to find a pattern and momentum, which is there for all to see. Not to say others can’t break into that XI but the current stability is working well.

There are still seven huge finals and a long way to go… but whatever happens, Spurs are heading in the right direction. Hopefully, that direction includes Champions League football next season. COYS!

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  1. On the pitch, the three recent signings from Italy, Romero, Kulu and Bent have really made the biggest difference in terms of strength and mentality.


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