Contrary to what you might have heard, Cuti Romero is in it for the long haul. The Athletic (£) published an interview with Tottenham Hotspur and Argentina defender Romero yesterday in which he reiterated his commitment to Spurs and his desire to be a part of a comeback under Ange Postecoglou. Cuti also noted a “division” between the players and former manager Antonio Conte in the last few months of Conte’s tenure last season.
But while Romero points to how the players and coaching staff weren’t always going the same way under Conte, he is quick to take responsibility for his own performances in last season’s disappointing finish.
“The group were somewhat separate from the staff. This is very difficult. My first match (after the World Cup) was against Aston Villa at home. That’s where it all started. We won one game, then we’d lose two and when things are divided and not everyone is pulling in the same direction — coaches, players, not pulling in the same direction — it becomes very difficult, but I’m the first to take responsibility for the poor season we had.
“These things that happened are in the past. We have to use it as an example so we don’t do it again and this season we have to try to do things in the right way so we can ensure the club is as successful as possible.”
But it wasn’t all about Conte. The same forces that divided the playing squad and coaching staff continued even after Conte’s departure, through the “Stellini interregnum” and into the final phase under Ryan Mason.
“I think before (the 6-1 Newcastle defeat) the group were already in a bad way and there was a divide between the players and the coach. In a competition like the Premier League, if you’re not all pulling in the same direction, it’s really tough and you saw that, not just against Newcastle but in the Liverpool game too. In the first 20 minutes, they put three past us. Against Manchester United, they were 2-0 up in the first half.”
There’s been a lot of chatter online about Cuti since Conte was let go. A lot of it — background, poorly sourced info — suggested that Romero was not happy at Tottenham, was prioritizing Argentina over his club obligations (the same accusation was also frequently levied at his Albiceleste teammate Gio Lo Celso), and was even agitating for a move this summer.
That’s not the case, according to Romero, who revealed that he turned down offers to leave for other clubs.
“The people that say this clearly don’t know me because I’m contracted to the club for many years. I always try to give my best. Obviously last season it didn’t always turn out great and you accept that. But I always try to give absolutely everything on the field.
“If I didn’t feel the same passion [as with Argentina], I would look to leave the club. Obviously I’m not happy with how last season ended for me and I’m the first to hold my hands up and say it wasn’t the best season but when I got offers from other clubs to move away for this coming season, I said no because I want to have my best years here. I really like the Premier League, I really like Tottenham and I want to be here for many more years to come.”
There is optimism suffusing throughout the club under new head coach Ange Postecoglou, and Romero sees it as well. Romero said that it’s pretty easy for him to get caught up in that optimism, especially the shift to a more front-footed, attacking style of play.
“I think [Postecoglou] is exactly the manager that the club needed. The biggest changes, well I don’t think they are significant changes, but it’s a playing style that I think Tottenham always had. It’s about taking more risks, taking control of the game. We know that the Premier League is a very tough league but we’ll try to really impose ourselves on every game in the way we weren’t able to last season and with the new manager, right now, I see the team looking really good.”
Tottenham’s defense was clearly the weak point in the team last season, and any change to the defensive performances will start with Romero. He’s critical to how the team will play this season, especially under Postecoglou who will shift to a back four and emphasize playing out of the back and with a high defensive line. So this interview comes at a perfect time. Part of Ange’s remit is to make sure that all of his players are fully bought in to his methods. It sure appears that Cuti has done so.