It’s scary how quickly the mood at Spurs can change. The roller coaster of a season has slipped again after being eliminated in the Carabao Cup semi-finals by Chelsea – how fans would like to get out of this round now.
The arrival of Antonio Conte was hailed as a god, who came to save a club that was deteriorating from within – hungry for identity, proper investment and direction. The punters were right in thinking that this was a man who could get Spurs out of the mud and put together a team of winners. They were wrong to think that he could do so quickly.
Conte called for patience as he tried to communicate his ideas, change the situation at the club and try an old team that was cutting him, but that patience appears to be already fading after just two months in charge.
Antonio Conte’s mood worsens after Tottenham’s elimination from the Carabao Cup
The scale of the Italian’s task was revealed with his skinny team barely completing the results
The jubilant Italian, who laughed and applauded as fans began chanting about him after several games in his reign, received a stark reminder of the scale of his mission. His squad has been trained much better than during Nuno Espirito Santo’s ill-fated reign, but his selection against the Blues showed just how far the club is from matching his quality.
Matt Doherty played at left-back, disappointing Giovanni Lo Celso backed Harry Kane and Lucas Moura in attack – while Japhet Tanganga continues to play in defense despite a handful of noise. His options are limited when talented but disappointing superstars like Tanguy Ndombele and Dele Alli face off against Premier League Morecambe.
Chelsea tackled Spurs via both legs – they didn’t even need to get out of third gear to break them up. No – North Londoners did it themselves. In the first leg, he awarded possession for the opening ball to Kai Havertz, then scored a comical own goal, struggling to create any signal opportunities. In the second, Pierluigi Giulini’s impression of Superman led him to miss the ball into the corner to seal Chelsea’s place in the final.
Tottenham barely put a glove on Chelsea against them in the cup semi-final
It never looked like Tottenham night – the VAR scored two penalties and a goal. Nothing met, there was no control. By the end of the match, Conte looked weary and formed a particularly volatile figure in his post-match press conference.
When asked about the real gap in the separation between Tottenham and Chelsea – having already admitted that his side are nowhere close to them last week – Conte replied: ‘I repeat, I talk a lot because I have to talk to the media.
To repeat the same topic, same questions, frankly I’m a little bored, a little annoyed. This is.’
You can hardly blame him for losing his temper. Most of the narrative around Conte’s arrival at Tottenham has been about supposed promises and assurances in the transfer market, and the questions about whether he will be backed in the January window seem never ending.
Conte has become irritable due to lack of signings, underperforming players and inconsistency
Certainly, there is a feeling that if Daniel Levy does not pull out his wallet and add at least two players this month, there will be a buzz from the stands – and the Italian will not be happy either. He stressed that contracting alone will not solve Tottenham’s problems. Right, but they wouldn’t hurt either and he knows these methods can’t be fully implemented until he gets the players he wants.
He sent a warning this week that he must be supported after holding a critical summit with Levy and director of football Fabio Paracci, explaining his feelings for what the team needs. Now it’s up to the forces in be to connect.
Fans already fear that their manager might walk away if he doesn’t get what he wants in this window – their relationship with Conte is like an insecure man dating a woman out of his league, worried she might have eyes elsewhere. If Levi doesn’t take serious steps to change the playing crew landscape, this nightmare could become a reality.
But make no mistake, things have changed at Spurs. Conte created an atmosphere at the club not seen since Mauricio Pochettino took over. He did this by instilling a distinctive style of play, organizing defense and bringing discipline. But there were still glaring issues that surfaced during the spell in the last five matches.
There is tremendous pressure on Chairman Daniel Levy to introduce new players to Conte this month
Conte made clear his feelings at the top of the transfers with Levi and director Fabio Paratici (left).
After a confident Crystal Palace 3-0 win, they struggled to smash Southampton’s 10-man side and leveled – then took until the last minute of stoppage time to beat a clean sheet Watford side. All season.
The less we talk about their performance against League One Morecambe, the better. The outlook wasn’t good at all, having to come back from behind, scoring their first goal in the 77th minute, and having to bring on Harry Kane and Lucas Moura to win the match.
So two terrifying feet against Chelsea were two rotten slices of bread smashing rotten flesh. There has been a noticeable drop in recent games – but why is that?
It’s odd to think Conte is still undefeated in the Premier League, and his first eight games have helped put a sense of satisfaction back at the club after Espirito Santo made fans despair – winning five, drawing twice and losing once.
The Italian team is old and does not have the personnel to fully implement its ideas
Spurs have faltered over their last five games, struggle to break teams and look lousy at the back
They averaged two goals per game during that round, compared to just one goal per game in the last five. Oddly enough, Conte’s team produces more shots per game (17.6) than at the start of his reign (12.6), plays more passes in the final third (36.4 vs. 26.4) and has more touches in the opponent’s area (30.8 compared to 22.2).
But their shot conversion rate is down – previously standing at 15.9 per cent and now down to 5.7 per cent, and they’re conceding more goals per game, in the stats they revealed Choose.
After signs he’s revitalized the fortunes of his superstar Kane, the England captain is still hot and cold and has yet to find the sparkling level he enjoyed last season, frustrating him when things don’t go the team’s way.
Harry Kane is still determined to leave the club despite the arrival of a world-class coach to Conte
Sportsmail It was revealed last night that the 28-year-old remains determined to leave the club, and Conte’s arrival has not changed his mind. With two-and-a-half years left on his contract, time is running out for Spurs for the striker to raise a significant sum, and he will know it.
Hiring one of the best coaches in the world was the best move Levy could take to convince Kane that his future lay in north London, but that was the promise he took when Jose Mourinho came along – and see how it turned out.
So Conte has a player who’s not 100 per cent mental and fighting for confidence. Like his manager, he wouldn’t be happy to see Tottenham exit another cup competition, with the FA Cup the only chance of winning silverware now.
The former Inter coach needs players ready to help him – he is set up to fail in order to be supported in the market
Tottenham don’t have many players as skilled as Kane or Son Heung-min, and they need more to unburden, feeling that the club’s chances of success lie in their own hands.
After Chelsea’s defeat, Jimmy Redknapp told how Tottenham should target high-profile players like Chelsea did with Romelu Lukaku, saying Conte has a history of signing ready-made stars who can deliver what he wants. Only then can he really squeeze the wheels and get them to work.
And the pressure on Conte to deliver seems enormous. It was too much even for a coach of Jose Mourinho’s descent and he’s done it. There are extraordinarily high expectations on his shoulders, but the quality of his current squad means he is set up for failure.
Spurs have a moment – all teams have them – but there are other factors that cannot be overcome with good training. If the club wants to be successful under Conte, there is only one path. It must evolve.