What Now?

I just wrote a Twitter thread, but it become long and unwieldy so I’ve decided to bash out a quick blog instead; apologies if it’s a little clunky.

We spoke on The Extra Inch tonight (to be released shortly) about whether we should change Head Coach or not. We could back Antonio Conte now with three or four important signings (say, goalkeeper, centre-back, right wing-back, creative midfielder) in order to attempt to get us back into the Champions League come the end of the season. We would be doing so hoping that he would turn things around with better players and then extend his contract in the summer or, if not, that we could find a new coach that could make use of a squad built for Conte and a back three.

Or we could sack Conte now and let this be day one in building a top-to-bottom club strategy. Working out what we want to be as a club, what we have the means to be, and building in that direction so that the Head Coach is but a cog in the machine, and can leave with the philosophy and strategy remaining. Brighton are a good example of this — Graham Potter leaves and Roberto De Zerbi comes in and can make use of the same group of players and play in a similar way, progressive with some of the same principles.

So this is the choice facing Daniel Levy. My preference is for option two, and here’s why. At this point I’m feeling pretty worn down by Conte’s methodology on and off the field. I find him tactically inflexible, and overly reliant on individuals. We’ve seen Eddie Nketiah — a significantly inferior player to Gabriel Jesus — come into the Arsenal team with minimal drop-off, because they prioritise the system over the individuals within it. Whereas Spurs can’t seem to cope without Rodrigo Bentancur, or Cristian Romero, or especially Dejan Kulusevski.

He’s not developing players or implementing his system well. We’ve seen so few players improve under Conte — on the podcast Bardi suggested Bentancur, and I think that’s a good shout. But I believe more have regressed than improved. Yves Bissouma, as an example, does not seem to have been able to grasp what’s being asked of him, and is a shadow of the player he was in Brighton, where he was a progressive destroyer. Under a good coach a team should be greater than the sum of its parts. Look at Newcastle United, or Brighton & Hove Albion, or Brentford, or Fulham or those horrible lot up the road. For most of this season I believe we have been less than the sum of our parts, and that’s a major concern. Conte is one of the world’s highest paid coaches, and I think we can expect more on the pitch.

And, frankly, I’m tired of his attempts to gain leverage by positioning himself outside the club in his press conferences. He is (temporarily) a part of this club, and it would be good for him to remember that every now and again.

With Conte’s contract nearly up, his tendency not to stay at clubs long, his reliance on recruiting highly specific (and often older players), his desire to only play a back three, and our performances this season, I’m just not sure that backing him at this stage is the prudent thing to do. The doubts are stacking up. We have just enough time to bring in a new guy now and get a couple of players in to support a transition to a new playing style.

Nathan’s concern is that maybe Daniel Levy hedges his bets and does minimal squad-building now (for the reasons stated above) and instead waits and sees how Conte does for the rest of the season, before potentially changing the coach in the summer. This would risk seeing us finishing outside of the European places and having less transfer funds as a result.

A growing number within our fanbase are sick of the ownership and believe that Daniel Levy and ENIC don’t invest enough money in the playing squad. A side note on this is that, even in my Twitter mentions, I’ve seen an increase in anti-Semitic language being used about Levy — please think carefully before using the term parasite. My own personal belief has always been that, once the stadium arrived, we would begin to see significant outlay. I believe that that has begun now and I expect it to continue. But I think it’s important that we spend wisely as we do not have the unlimited funds of Manchester City or Newcastle United.

I remain unconvinced that Daniel Levy has it in him to develop and implement a whole club strategy. I would love for him to step back and delegate this, but not to Fabio Paratici, who I simply don’t trust to identify and attract Head Coaches or oversee a modern recruitment department.

Ultimately I think we’ll be ~fine either way. We are — in my opinion – set-up to be a sustainably wealthy club forever more (and Levy deserves credit for that). But it’s unbelievably frustrating, because we could be tremendously successful if we were run just a little bit smarter.

Join the conversation

  1. Can’t argue too much with most of that but I think Conte will walk in the summer. The Brighton model is a great example of a well run progressive club that lives within its means and maximises every aspect from recruitment to players and staff. We also have a great academy that we are almost ignoring at the moment. Letting Marcus Edwards go is a crime and we need to nurture more of these talents and get them a route into the first team if they are good enough.
  2. I don't normally write on blogs but felt I need to. I think Levy and Joe Lewis are looking for minimal outlay on players as they are begging for the club to be sold. Option 2 is the best option and we did have this with Poch in the past. I didn't care about winning stuff I just enjoyed the football. The past 3 managers have been awful so many of our youth has jumped ship. Brentford and Brighton are great examples but clubs abroad such as Atalanta (Serie A) follow this method.
  3. Nice article, agree with your feedback. The problem is, as I see it, and as a business leader myself, Is that Conte is still hamstrung from the top. I know that if I don’t give my employees what they need, they won’t deliver my strategy. I don’t think Enic have a strategy as a football team, they just operate as a business, and that’s where the problem begins. Personally, I’d welcome a shake up all the way from the top. I know they’ve done a great job with the stadium and training facilities, but the fans are more concerned with what happens in the pitch week to week. I don’t have a solution, there are too many problems to solve in one go, but our club has gone stale, and something needs to happen.
  4. I totally share your concerns regarding Conte, and his lack of willingness to system change. His substitution timing is terrible. We are getting well outplayed from the start of a game and he'd still wait until going on 70 minutes🤯. Besides the above, I have simply lost faith in his ability to turn things around the rest of the season. He's too stuck in his own ways, which have made him a world class manager, it's just not our squads strengths. It's a bit like Mourinho situation. Unfortunately my vote would be option 2 WINDYCOYS. With what Spurs should be looking to do during this window. Even if Levy brought in 4 Conte style players, I still don't see a massive turn around. I say this because, I really don't think the system we play, totally suites Kane, Son, Richy, Bissouma, Bentancur and others, sorry but it's how I'm seeing it. I also believe Conte will walk at the end of the season anyway, and God knows where THFC will be in the table stance. Going on our state of playing, I don't believe we'll be within the European positions. Unless Levy & Conte can surprise us all by sorting out our back line. Plus bring on a quality AMF, and Conte changing to a more positive, forward thinking style of playing, No use even continuing this dreaming part, as it'll never happen. My first priority is our club and its players and I do not believe Conte is the best person to be head coach. Plus Levy should not be involved with transfers AT ALL!
  5. I echo all of these sentiments, windy. I’d prefer Conte to go immediately, although I doubt that will happen, he’ll likely depart in the summer. I’ve had enough of his constant deflecting, he’s taking nearly 400,000 grand a week in wages out of the Club, yet, he seems quite at ease talking about Spurs and their various defects without ever really accepting his very central role in the entire saga. It’s a bad look on multiple levels. Yesterday just confirmed what I’ve felt for a while, he’s not the right person for the job (that’s on Levy) nor is his approach. Tottenham Hotspur are one of the greatest names in European Football, we should have a manager who reflects that, who fully appreciates the privilege that the role bestows on them. Conte thinks the opposite, he thinks he’s doing us a favor!
  6. I appreciate this take, especially that it's level-headed. I personally don't feel like getting rid of Conte is the solution right now, but that's less to do with Conte than it is to do with skepticism around how the club is managed. As others in the comments have pointed out, from a business perspective, ENIC has been fantastic. However, when it comes to managing the actual team and managers, it's been horrendous, and has been quite dichotomous in its stated philosophy versus how it operates. That is to say, there is no clear strategy. As such, I have no faith that this club can either A) acknowledge that we don't have a win-now squad and that we need a project-type of manager, or B) commit to a multi-year rebuild and resist the temptation to hire a hot win-now manager like Tuchel. If that's the case, might as well let Conte run out his contract and then (hopefully) be honest with themselves.
  7. We'll never be a Bayern Munich but we could be a Borussia Dortmund, by which I mean we'll never be able to compete financially with the Manchester clubs or Chelsea, but if we're smart and everything clicks then we can still win trophies. It happened under Poch bar the trophies (but that was a toss of the coin away). That makes us a project club, not a 'win now' club. A clear statement of that reality from the top would be helpful. Then there's another decision to make about playing style: personally I'm fed up with watching Mourinho/Conte style low block and counter-ball: when it's bad, like on Sunday, it's really bad. So I'm Conte out, either now or in the summer but in the summer is less disruptive. Get Poch back but don't let him near recruitment, or get a de Zerbi type. Levy's legacy will be the best stadium in the country generating revenue that goes into the squad, and Spurs sitting at the top table of European football. Levy has already started stepping back from the football side: Paratici is running transfers. This just needs to be a bit more definitive (no more giving him the Spence deal to keep him occupied) and it needs to be communicated. Announce that Levy has stepped back from the football side and Paratici is in charge and a lot of the heat will go away. If Conte goes then don't get rid of Paratici at the same time. Any organisation needs some level of continuity and I think his transfers have been above average for a DofF: 3/4 starters in Romero, Bentancur, Kulu and Richarlison, and some promising talent in Sarr, Gil and Udogie. A few more windows of recruitment at that level and we'll be in a much happier place. A new manager in the summer and we can turn this around pretty quickly. Up the Spurs!

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