Opinion: The time to plan for the post-Conte era at Tottenham is now

Antonio Conte
Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

While I’m excited at the appointment of Antonio Conte as Tottenham manager, since his accomplishments in charge of club and country are remarkable, I feel like he may not be what the team needs. At least not in the long run.

The new boss likely has a group that he could lead to trophies right now—the League Cup and Conference League do not seem beyond this squad, especially with the right gaffer—but Tottenham also need a long-term rebuild. Long-term, though, is not what Conte does.

Antonio Conte’s last four tenures run as such:

  • Juventus – Three years
  • Italy – Two years
  • Chelsea – Two years
  • Inter – Two years

And acrimony, especially with club hierarchies, tends to be the reason for his leaving posts.

Conte isn’t a Pep Guardiola, always looking for a new challenge but also leaving on good terms and still beloved where he’s managed in the past. Conte wants what he wants and he will leave any job when he doesn’t get it.

“I look at the projects and I am willing to stay at home if they do not convince me,” he has said. “It is a question of vision, professionalism, intellectual honesty and principles that cannot be ignored.”

I can respect that. And the man has the clout to make demands. But will that go over at Spurs, specifically with Daniel Levy in charge?

There’s reason to think it won’t. Gab Marcotti of ESPN, when commenting about the possible bad fit between Conte and Spurs, says that Conte left Juve, Chelsea, and Inter because of a lack of investment in the squad.

Those grumblings have never been far from Conte. And compared to his three previous clubs, Tottenham is penurious at best.

Of course, that Conte turned Spurs down in the summer and only a few months later reconsidered perhaps means that the chairman is willing to loosen the purse strings. Or that Fabio Paratici convinced Conte of as much.

Given the years Levy’s been in control, though, it’s hard to be convinced that he’ll spend for a long time, if at all. Except that’s what Spurs need now, to buy players and pay them as the top clubs do.

They need a creative midfielder to pull the strings for Kane and Son. They need a quality centre back to pair with Romero. They need better squad depth to be able to compete in cups.

None of that comes cheap. It doesn’t come with selling players to raise funds for buying players. It comes from buying and, sometimes, overpaying for the right players in order to get the talent needed on the pitch.

And it can’t all be done in one transfer window. It’s a continuous project in which all the top clubs engage.

I’d love to see this. I’m sure Conte will demand it. But it hasn’t been Levy’s MO, which could drive the new boss away sooner than anyone would like.

In the short run, Paratici and Levy deserve praise for bringing in a top manager. There’s no ambiguity here, this time they got the best man available.

But if Spurs are to develop into perpetual winners, this appointment is only a first step. Whatever squad Conte builds, there’s no reason to think he’ll oversee it for an extended time.

So if our managing director wants to enjoy a decade at Spurs as he did at Juventus, he’d better start planning for Conte’s successor right now.

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