All Tottenham fans will be acutely aware of the term ‘spursy’, a saying often bounced around the media when Spurs have ‘bottled’ a result or moment.
The term is usually dismissed and resisted by Spurs fans who may believe it is used lazily, however, most supporters will be in unanimous agreement that losing to a then 19th placed Burnley days after defeating the Premier League champions, is definitely ‘spursy’.
Conte has started to engrave his methods into Tottenham, a clear example being Tottenham’s opening goal at Elland Road as one wing-back teed up the other with Matt Doherty being on the receiving end of a fast, whipped ball that was driven in by left wing-back Ryan Sessegnon.
The latter has been a player that Antonio Conte has recently been speaking highly of after games with caused rumours to then follow that Sessegnon may even receive a new contract as a reward for his recent impressive performances (Telegraph).
Sessegnon was given Conte’s vote of confidence and his backing during his press conference prior to Tottenham’s visit to Burnley; stating his delight at the 21-year-old’s levels of late.
The Italian claimed: “Sess in my vision has all the possibility to become an important player” (Football London). This public signal of confidence is something reminiscent of former manager Spurs Mauricio Pochettino emulating his ‘arm around the shoulder’ style of management.
Conte clearly isn’t always that type of manager but his ability to single out players that he can ‘trust’ will be important for Tottenham as they try to navigate a rebuild as it boosts the players’ confidence and allows Conte to be ruthless in shipping out the players whom he doesn’t have ‘trust’ in.
We witnessed a glimmer of this in January as four players were sent out of the club in the short space of a month.
Conte’s press conferences have been the subject of large discussions as the Italian renowned for not holding back and speaking his mind. He even seemingly teased the idea of him leaving Spurs after the defeat to Burnley, saying how at Tottenham “coaches change, the players stay the same, and the results don’t change” (Marca).
Tottenham’s squad is also very young, with an average age of 25.5 (Transfermarkt), which has been helped by Paratici’s tendency to buy younger players, as the average age of his N17 transfers is just 22.4 years old.
The issue with younger and inexperienced players is that they can often lack consistency or confidence, both things have become a common issue for Conte’s side as of late.
On the 2nd of March, Spurs crashed out the FA Cup to Championship side, Middlesbrough, in another episode of the club’s consistency struggles as they travelled to the Riverside off the back of tearing apart Leeds 4-0.
This makes it seem as though there are two sides to Tottenham, one that’s capable of beating the Premier League champions away from home and the other that loses to the likes of Middlesbrough and Burnley.
The issue of consistency is starting to become a legitimate concern as Tottenham haven’t won back-to-back games since Boxing Day when they defeated Crystal Palace at home.
However, it’s possible to extract positives from the FA Cup defeat to Middlesborough, as it prevents any fixture congestion or possibilities of two-legged ties amongst Premier League games.
Conte has only tasted defeat once with his Tottenham side when he has been given 5 or more days to prepare, winning 6 games out of 8, only dropping points in a 2-2 draw with title challengers Liverpool and away to Manchester United (Sky Sports).
There’s a high possibility that, should Spurs win a few matches in a row, confidence may build and the effects on morale may start to snowball. A squad with confidence, freedom and energy is exactly what Antonio Conte will desire especially if he is to achieve a top-four position.
The Tottenham head coach even stated that finishing in the top four with Spurs would be “like we won the Premier League or Champions League this season” (ESPN).
These words were spoken after Tottenham’s rampant victory over struggling Merseyside club, Everton, which again gave Tottenham fans a glimmer of the possible future of the team with free-flowing attacking football paired with clinical finishing and solid defending.
It’s clear even the man in charge of these players is keen to not get carried away as he stated: “I want an answer from my players in the game against United” (Football.London).
The Italian manager did receive a slight response in the form of a strong performance against the Red Devils, but it wasn’t enough to halt the routine of winning and losing and also gave up three points to a top-four rival.
The aim between now and the end of the season will have to be – start putting together a run of wins and finish the season strong to try and fire the team into the top four which could be the incentive to keep people such as manager Antonio Conte and striker Harry Kane for at least another season.
Hopefully, Conte can then have a whole pre-season to form his squad and tactics, something which he didn’t have this season as he joined the club in November 2021.
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