Ever since Tottenham Hotspur finished their new stadium and made it to the Champions League final, Spurs chairman Daniel Levy has been obsessed with attracting a big-name manager to lead the club into a glorious new era. After Jose Mourinho flamed out at White Hart Lane, it was thought that Antonio Conte might be that person, only to see him walk away from negotiations, resulting in a screwed-up succession process that eventually led to the appointment of Nuno Espirito Santo.
Now, Levy has finally got his man. Today the club officially announced the appointment of Conte as Tottenham Hotspur head coach, on an 18 month contract lasting through the end of the 2023 season.
✍️ We are delighted to announce the appointment of Antonio Conte as our Head Coach on a contract until the summer of 2023, with an option to extend.— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) November 2, 2021
In the club statement Conte addressed his delight to return to football and the fact that he was not appointed as Spurs head coach this past summer.
“I am extremely happy to return to coaching, and to do so at a Premier League club that has the ambition to be a protagonist again.
“Tottenham Hotspur has state-of-the-art facilities and one of the best stadiums in the world.
“I can’t wait to start working to convey to the team and the fans the passion, mentality and determination that have always distinguished me, as a player and as a coach.
“Last summer our union did not happen because the end of my relationship with Inter was still too recent and emotionally too involved with the end of the season, so I felt that it wasn’t yet the right time to return to coaching.
“But the contagious enthusiasm and determination of Daniel Levy in wanting to entrust me with this task had already hit the mark. Now that the opportunity has returned, I have chosen to take it with great conviction.”
In the hours after Nuno was sacked, multiple reports out of Italy had suggested that, in contrast to this summer, Tottenham were now prepared to fully back Conte financially in order to complete the “painful rebuild” alluded to by Mauricio Pochettino. We will see how much of that bears out when the window opens. For now, Conte will have to work with the players he has at his disposal.
And they are good players! While under Nuno Tottenham improved defensively, one of the criticisms of Nuno’s tactics was what felt like a lack of a cohesive plan to transition the ball from defense to the forwards. It seems likely that we should see something very different on the pitch compared to the four months of Nunoball. With the clubs behind Liverpool and Manchester City stuttering, the race for top four is wide open. Conte knows how to win. Why can’t he do it here?
Conte is known as a manager with a fiery disposition who demands what he wants and expects to be fully backed by his employers, as well as a person who is not afraid to walk away if he feels like he is not getting what he needs to be successful. That potentially puts him on a collision course with Levy, who has a reputation for being stingy and pragmatic. That could be the reason for the initially short contract — only 18 months — and it is a worry that this could be like mixing oil and water. If things don’t work out, again, between the manager and the players or club administration, it could set Spurs back even further from returning to contention for trophies and Premier League honors.
So this is a pretty big roll of the dice. However, the upside is HUGE. Conte wins things, and he rarely leaves his clubs in a worse state than he found them. We’ll have more on Conte’s tactics and what we might expect from him in due course. In the meantime, the Tottenham roller coaster is currently racing on an up slope.