Conte: have Spurs found the right man at last?

After the departure of yet another boss, fresh hope for fans

Thursday, 4th November 2021 — By Dan Carrier

Antonie Conte 2 - Credit Tottenham Hotspur FC

Antonio Conte has replaced Nuno Espirito Santo. PHOTO: TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR FC

A NEW dawn, fresh hope, an enjoyable honeymoon, stodgy form, acrimonious divorce… and repeat.

Such is the lot of the Tottenham manager.

After 64 minutes of Saturday’s 3-0 mauling against a poor Manchester United side, director of football Fabio Paratici had seen enough.

Throwing a strop, he stormed off to skulk in the warmth of the directors’ lounge.

The Italian – brought in by chairman Daniel Levy over the summer to find an answer to two-and-a-half years of rapid decline – called his pal and ex-colleague, the serial winner Antonio Conte, and said this time he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

As the mobile of the former Inter Milan and Chelsea manager – who was hanging out in his home city of Lecce near the Adriatic coast – buzzed with Paratici’s number, Nuno Espirito Santo was standing alone on the touchline. Silent, arms folded, his players struggling to string three passes together while the barracking of fans echoed around the terraces.

It was obvious this relationship was as healthy as the fodder in shlocky TV series Married at First Sight.

Matchmaker Levy, peering down from his West Stand eyrie, soaked up the chants that called for his recent appointment’s removal, interspersed with unsavoury mentions in his direction, too. It was clear he, Paratici and 60,000 Spurs fans had seen enough.

Nuno was not going to make it much past the post-match press conference, and this time, Conte was ready to say yes to a proposal first made back in May.

Judging from what the new manager said as he and his lawyers jetted in to London and headed to Spurs Lodge to scrawl names on a contract, he had been interested in the job in the summer – but was frazzled after winning the league with Inter Milan before swiftly parting company with the club. Burned by the end of that relationship, he was unwilling to start again while on the rebound.

But Conte said he had been impressed with Levy’s project, and was keen to be reunited with Paratici after the pair worked together at Juventus, and delivered success.

The deal was signed late on Monday, and the new boss slept at the training complex so he could greet his new charges as they arrived the following morning.

Nuno, meanwhile, lasted just 17 games – an expensive mistake, but just one in a long line.

Tottenham owners Enic are well versed to pay-off deals after their men fail to live up to their ambitions.

Since 2001, they have given 15 men the job of picking 11 players.

The fans are weathered optimists, flipping on a near yearly basis from hope, to pessimism, and back to uncontrollable hope, that maybe this time the alchemy will be right.

So, what might be different this time round? Conte’s reputation has been earned and, unlike Jose Mourinho, is not based on past glories.

He has some impressive tools at his disposal and has been promised more. While he will be breaking some bad news to a number of the squad, there are others he’ll squeeze performances from.

Conte is a thoughtful tactician with a passionate touchline presence.

He commands respect because his methods have been shown to work.

Buckle up, Spurs fans, and brace yourselves. Off we go again with the hope of another love match ending with trophies – or the most spectacular crash and burn many fans have borne witness to since Levy settled down in the chairman’s chair.

At least if this relationship does break down again, Conte’s contract ends in just 18 months – the same time as the fans’ true love Mauricio Pochettino’s deal is up at Paris St-Germain.

Sounds like Levy, after years of falling for the wrong bloke, has finally got it right.

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