Opinion: The player winners and losers of Tottenham hiring Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte
Claudio Villa - Inter/Inter via Getty Images

At full time on Saturday, October 30, following a 3-0 defeat to Manchester United, the feeling and atmosphere in the stadium and on social media from a Tottenham perspective was pretty bleak and miserable.

Fast forward to Tuesday and Spurs were already looking at a new era under Antonio Conte – something that seemed a million miles away just after 7 pm on Saturday.

Firstly, I wish Nuno the best of luck – he is a good guy and a victim of a situation outside of his control, and I hope his next job is a bit more aligned to him and his philosophy.

Within Tottenham though, looking forwards there will be some systematic and personnel changes coming, and like anything, there will be those who win from that and those who lose.

Here’s my opinion on how I think that will play out:

Winner – Harry Kane

The Nuno system hasn’t suited Kane. There could be a debate that his effort and head have gone, but we haven’t played with the same intensity as he has thrived under, and any player in the world can struggle in the wrong system (Messi in Ligue 1 is an example).

With a system known to feed the centre-forward, Kane has all the quality to come back to his best in a high intensity 3-5-2. It’s been a fragile few months in the Kane/fan relationship, but I’d love to see him start burying goals again and shooting up the league and maybe pick up a cup before whatever happens this summer.

Losers – Lucas, Gil & Bergwijn (The wingers)

3-5-2 can be a potent attacking force with the right gameplan, and it’s odd Nuno didn’t utilise his tried and tested more when at Tottenham. Part of the reason may be to do with the wingers at his disposal and feeling like there was too much talent to leave out.

However, Conte won’t bow to that if he thinks the system is right (remember he turned Moses into a Premier League-winning right-wing-back), so there may be limited playing time for some very good players.

Conte may operate 3-4-3 which would give a few more options, but it feels Tottenham will need 3 in CM for the first phase at least. I feel most sorry for Lucas, who is arguably one of our best players so far this season through his effort and desire.

Winners – Reguilon, Emerson, Sessegnon and Doherty (The wing-backs)

As above, the change in shape means more freedom for the attacking fullbacks. Irrespective of whether it’s 3-5-2 or 3-4-3, there will be wingbacks under Conte’s Spurs side.

All of these are stronger going forwards than defending but with good recovery pace, so it’s only a good thing that there will be an emphasis on them getting forwards and delivering balls into the box.

Sessegnon I am personally looking forward to seeing improve and develop under Conte as he’s still a serious prospect!

Loser – Eric Dier

He was massively trusted by Nuno, and has been relatively solid this season, but I genuinely think Conte will want his own centre-backs to play alongside Romero in the long term.

A guy who loves the club, but maybe has too many mistakes on his resume now for fans to forget and may find himself back on the bench a lot come January. I think until then he has an opportunity to prove himself and must take it.

Winner – Harry Winks

A bit of a gamble on this one, as Conte may not be a fan at all, but Winks certainly won’t be in a worse position, as the writing was on the wall under Nuno – being left out of matchday squads altogether in recent weeks.

However, a fresh start is an opportunity, and Conte may have plans to use Winks in a 3-5-2, which would mean leaving out at least 2 of Lo Celso, Hojbjerg, Ndombele, Alli and Skipp.

I’m not sure Winks will play his way back into the squad personally, I think Hojbjerg can do the same job but better, but Conte will have his own take on what he sees!

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