Moving forward

Last night I decided that, in the morning, I would lay in bed with a cup of tea and blog about the current Spurs situation. And then the Julian Nagelsmann news broke. I debated leaving it. I’d be leaving it because my views seem to be out of step with the current vibes (at least on Twitter and in our Discord). I knew what it would lead to — being accused of being a Levy shill/cuck and lacking ambition or being ‘part of the problem’. I tweeted a pretty innocuous thing and, sure enough, woke up to said accusations.

This guy went more route one…

Yesterday I helped my friend Nathan write a To-Do List for Tottenham’s next Director of Football. The only point I disagree with is the 5th — I wouldn’t sell Kane at any cost, even if it meant we only got one more year. I’d also keep Son for another season. The rest I think is absolutely bang on the money.

I think it’s essential that Spurs appoint a Director of Football as the number one priority. I’m encouraged by links to Johannes Spors and understand that we’ve spoken to Lee Dykes of Brentford, who has overseen some excellent recruitment and is accustomed to working in an exceptionally well-functioning model. Sami Mokbel reported yesterday that Roma’s Tiago Pinto and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Markus Krosche are also being considered. I have not yet done much reading or research on these two new (to me) names, so cannot comment too much on their suitability.

It’s quite difficult to analyse Pinto’s transfers for Roma over the last couple of years because you have to factor in the Mourinho-tax (i.e. he signed Nemanja Matić). I’m not impressed with some of the fees he achieved for outgoing players (Nicolò Zaniolo €15m, Jordan Veretout €11m) but, again, who knows the impact Mourinho had on those prices. The biggest red flag, obviously, is that one of the first things he did was fire Paulo Fonseca and appoint Jose Mourinho.

Krosche has done some interesting transfer business and also appointed Oliver Glasner, who won the UEFA Europa League in 2021/22 but finished 11th in the Bundesliga that season and currently has them 9th. It’s reasonable to say that that is not too out of kilter though — their last ten league finishes are: 6-13-9-16-11-8-7-9-5-11. Anyway, Director of Football is the immediate priority. And only then should we move on to coaches.

Aside from, perhaps, Steve Hitchen’s list of Mauricio Pochettino, Erik ten Hag and Graham Potter prior to the appointment of Antonio Conte by Fabio Paratici, I think the current list of linked coaches is the best I’ve known from Spurs. I’m not taken by Xavi Alonso as I think his style of play is too counter-attacking, but Arne Slot, Ange Postecoglou, Vincent Kompany, Roberto De Zerbi and Ruben Amorim are about as good as I might expect. Julian Nagelsmann was my number one choice. I would have been happy with the re-appointment of Mauricio Pochettino. I’ll address why I suspect we are not progressing with either.

My main (but not only) concern with Mauricio Pochettino was that he would not fit within a system which included a Director of Football. During his tenure, he requested to move from Head Coach to Manager, gaining more control and responsibility. He personally vetoed the signings of Youri Tielemans and Ricardo Pereira, players who I believe would have significantly improved us at the time. I believe that coaches should have input into signings and should not be given players that they do not want and will not use (*cough*DjedSpence*cough*, but I believe that Pochettino, in vetoing these particular signings, was allowing ‘perfect’ to be the enemy of ‘good’. Maybe he would be willing to change. I’d have given it a chance. I have no idea what terms Daniel Levy and Mauricio Pochettino are on, and it’s entirely possible that Daniel Levy is too proud and stubborn to go back to Pochettino anyway. If we’d wanted to appoint a permanent coach once Conte left, Pochettino would have been the ideal choice. Given that we decided to wait until the end of the season, I think Pochettino was legitimately and rightly pushed down the pecking order.

I believe Julian Nagelsmann was the ideal candidate. I really enjoyed recording this podcast with Adam Khan about him. My understanding is that Nagelsmann, during early sounding out, made some ‘suggestions’ that implied that he would require a level of control over and above what one might expect a Head Coach to have (edit: I understand that this is accurate). In my opinion we cannot enter into another situation like the one we had with Mauricio Pochettino or even Antonio Conte, where a coach is given too much power (or perceived power) and it becomes a power struggle with the club. For me, working within a structure is non-negotiable. There was also always a chance with a star appointment like Nagelsmann that he, like Conte and Mourinho before him, saw himself as above us.

In my opinion, where Daniel Levy went wrong with the appointments of Mourinho and Conte was veering away from the club strategy. He actually called this himself (prior to appointing Conte, sadly).

“As a Club we have been so focused on delivering the stadium and dealing with the impact of the pandemic, that I feel we lost sight of some key priorities and what’s truly in our DNA.”

“We are acutely aware of the need to select someone whose values reflect those of our great Club and return to playing football with the style for which we are known – free-flowing, attacking and entertaining – whilst continuing to embrace our desire to see young players flourish from our Academy alongside experienced talent.”

From Chairman’s Message, 19 May 2021

I was excited about the appointments of Mourinho and Conte. I found the names irresistible and convinced myself that they were what we needed to capitalise on having Harry Kane and Son Heung-min. I was open to them being given more control because of their histories of success. I was absolutely wrong, and I realised this quite early on with Mourinho and slightly later with Conte. Levy cannot make the same mistakes again.

Finally, Ryan Mason. I am repeatedly asked how I feel about Ryan Mason taking over at Spurs given how he has started. I have a lot of affection for Ryan Mason, having first watched him play for our Under-18s as a skinny 16-year old (him, not me). I thoroughly enjoyed listening to him on the High Performance podcast. He comes across extremely well, is smart and reflective and modern and open to new ideas. I also really like the blend of skills he has with Matt Wells as his assistant. I urge you to read this on Wells (who also happens to be Cliff Jones’ grandson). I believe that Wells — who uses a video analyst in the stands to clip up moments for the half-time team talk — is responsible for recent tactical changes.

Mason and Wells are proper Spurs. I hope that one day they return to manage us, but I don’t think now is the right time. I’d like to see them both go to a club in League One or League Two and gain some more experience. I totally understand that every appointment comes with a degree of risk, but the idea of appointing a Head Coach who has overseen just thirteen matches (as it will be by the end of the season) as a first team Head Coach is too risky for me to consider at this stage, despite my love and admiration for Ryan.

I fundamentally do not trust Daniel Levy to make good football decisions. I hope that he appoints a Director of Football that we can have faith in, and that the Head Coach that they land on is focussed on those stated priorities and with working as part of a team to get there. Then we can finally move forward with a clear vision.

Finally, and just to close the loop, the last time I wrote was in mid-January, where I was urging the club to fire Antonio Conte. Had we done so and appointed Mason and Wells then, I believe we could still be in with a chance of Champions League football next season. Daniel Levy left it until Antonio Conte made his job untenable to make the decision to part ways. He then made the catastrophic decision of sticking with Conte’s second in command, implying that he didn’t think that the tactics were the issue, just the personality at the helm. The reporting has suggested that things had become completely toxic around Conte, and I have been told that this is accurate. But it was not just the toxicity of his leadership, but the toxicity of his coaching and tactics. I think we’ve totally wasted the latter half of this season, which is a damn shame.

However — and I preface this by accepting that I am an eternal optimist — every summer there’s an overstated buzz around returning players on loan or young players or previously ostracised players getting a second chance (or first chance in some cases) with the first team squad. This summer I think it’s justified. Given the way Conte unceremoniously ‘disappeared’ a bunch of players (and I’d include Pape Matar Sarr in that), I think there’s a lot to look forward to this summer. We have some exciting young players to involve in pre-season in Destiny Udogie, Djed Spence, Bryan Gil, Sarr, Alfie Devine, etc. We also have a bunch of other returning loan players who may or may not be fancied by the incoming coach. I’m really looking forward to seeing how the squad shapes up over the next three months and I remain very hopeful ahead of next season. That will soon change if we don’t get the DoF appointed quickly, with a Head Coach to follow soon after the season is over.

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.

Home Grown Players (HGP) Quota – Summer 2022 Transfer Window

Each year I write about the 25-man squad and the implications of the home grown players rule and how it will impact on Spurs’ transfer strategy. The home grown player numbers could impact on how many signings Fabio Paratici can make, the nature of those signings and/or the size of our squad for the rest of the season.

The Premier League ‘Home Grown Players (HGP)’ Rule

The misconception about the requirement itself is that clubs must name eight home grown players in their squads. We could name fewer than eight HGPs, but would need to also name fewer than 25 players in our squad — for example, if we only have seven HGPs, we can name a 24-man squad, 6/23, 5/22, etc. 

Remember, an HGP is defined as one whom, irrespective of nationality or age, has been registered with any club affiliated to The Football Association or the Football Association of Wales for a period, continuous or not, of three entire seasons, or 36 months, before his 21st birthday (or the end of the season during which he turns 21). Source: Premier League.

As ever, we will not need to name players who are under 21 on our squad list, so could augment our squad with youngsters. This would mean that we could manage with, say, a 22-man squad with just five HGPs, but would need plenty of under 21 players who are ready to play. For the 2022/23 campaign, players considered ‘under 21’ will have been born on or after 1 January 2001. This means that for the current season we could still have a number of ‘freebies’ who are fairly well-known names, the likes of: Bryan Gil, Jamie Bowden, Harvey White, Kion Etete, Troy Parrott, Malachi Fagan-Walcott, Kallum Cesay, Pape Matar Sarr, Maksim Paskotši, Nile John, Matthew Craig, Dane Scarlett, Charlie Sayers, Alfie Devine. Some of these players will ultimately be sent out on loan, of course.

From this season, Dejan Kulusevski, Ryan Sessegnon, Oliver Skipp, Jack Clarke, Brooklyn Lyons-Foster and Marcel Lavinier would need to be named on our squad list should we wish to use them as they were all born before 1 January 2001.

The Champions League ‘Home Grown Players (HGP)’ Rule

The Champions League rules are a little different to the Premier League rules — have a look at article 45 (‘Player Lists’) of the regulations. UEFA don’t just want clubs to have players trained elsewhere in the FA structure; they have additional requirements for club-trained players. They want to encourage clubs to bring through their own young players.

If we want to name a ‘full’ (25-man) squad in the Champions League, we would need at least four ‘association-trained’ players and four ‘club-trained’ players.

Club-trained players

  • Harry Kane
  • Harry Winks
  • Alfie Whiteman
  • Brandon Austin
  • Japhet Tanganga
  • Oliver Skipp

Association-trained players

  • Fraser Forster
  • Ryan Sessegnon
  • Jack Clarke (on the verge of a move to Sunderland)

Players under 21 can be included on List B so long as they have been ‘eligible to play for the club concerned for any uninterrupted period of two years since his 15th birthday by the time he is registered with UEFA, or a total of three consecutive years with a maximum of one loan period to a club from the same association for a period not longer than one year.’

List B Players who might be useful

  • Harvey White
  • Kion Etete
  • Troy Parrott
  • Malachi Fagan-Walcott
  • Kallum Cesay
  • Nile John
  • Matthew Craig
  • Dane Scarlett
  • Alfie Devine

It’s worth noting that several of the above will likely be out on loan.


We currently have 31 players who would need to be named on the Premier League squad list if we wanted to play them (the maximum allowed is 25). Many of these players are expected to leave (Tanguy Ndmbele, Giovani Lo Celso, Harry Winks, Japhet Tanganga, etc) and some are previously unused youth players (Brooklyn Lyons-Foster, Marcel Lavinier) plus two goalkeepers in Brandon Austin and Alfie Whiteman (who is currently on loan), and so it’s difficult to draw too many conclusions about whether the squad list restrictions will be an issue for us at this point; but I would say probably not.

As ever, it’s a slightly more delicate situation in the UEFA competition due to the relatively low number of club and association-trained players.

Depending on how the summer transfer activity goes, we may end up having to select a slightly smaller squad than the maximum allowed for the Champions League. This is unlikely to cause a substantial issue and we have the ability to supplement the matchday squad with List B players, but we should be aware that we are putting ourselves at a competitive disadvantage through not having enough club and association-trained players in our squad. Djed Spence is an even more attractive option with this in mind, and, as per the tweet above, I’m encouraged to see us linked with players like Alex Scott. We should also be looking at several of the other players who excelled for England in the Under 19 European Championship; for example, Aston Villa’s Carney Chukwuemeka only has a contract for one more year.

I am the host of The Extra Inch; a Spurs podcast that delves into the analytical side of Tottenham games. Check us out! If you already follow the podcast, consider becoming an xSub for additional content, including videos, and extra podcasts.

I recently added a Donate button to this site. It’s on the ‘About‘ page. I explain why on there. Cheers!

Dilan Markanday… And What It Means (Part 2)

Before you read this, you might want to read my article Dilan Markanday… And What It Means (Part 1), as well as Dilan Markanday… And What It Means (Part 1.5).

I would also recommend reading Loan Pathways: The Academy Model, by Jon Mackenzie and Josh Hobbs for Analytics FC.


  • I started researching and writing this around three months ago and so some of the details have possibly changed a little.
  • Whilst I’m confident that my spreadsheet is at least 95% accurate, there could be a handful of errors or even players missing that would lead to small changes in the subsequent analysis.
  • Spurs have tended to not disclose transfer fees. I could have used fees from Transfermarkt but that wouldn’t have filled all of the gaps.
  • It was really tricky to make judgements around which leagues are ‘better’ than others when I was trying to rank the best level a player had played at.

Here is the data. Have a look, get your head around it. I wanted to look at the circumstances leading to the player leaving, how many minutes they’d played, etc, as well as how they left. Please comment if you spot any inaccuracies or have any information to add, I’d be very grateful.

Let’s start with some top-level analysis from the 11 academy intakes between 2007/08 and 2017/18. I’m using these because the intakes beyond this do not have many interesting stories to tell yet (except, perhaps the cases Luis Binks and Dennis Cirkin, who both left early in such of first team football — successfully!).

  • From the 11 academy intakes between 2007/08 and 2017/18 we have introduced 137 players to our Academy. NB: I was going to phrase this as ‘given scholarships to 137 players’, but I don’t think that that is strictly true, since a handful joined us after the commencement of that intake and were likely via different contract types.
  • 10 of those 137 (7.3%) have gone on to play over 1,000 minutes for Spurs’ first team. These are: Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend, Steven Caulker, Tom Carroll, Harry Kane, Nabil Bentaleb, Harry Winks, Kyle Walker-Peters, Japhet Tanganga, Oliver Skipp.
  • If we include Marcus Edwards (for whom I do not believe we have received a fee yet, but likely will do in future) and both Luke Amos and Dennis Cirkin, for whom we understand the fees to be around the £1m mark, 12 players (8.8%) have been sold for £1m or more. These are: Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend, Nabil Bentaleb, Kyle Walker-Peters, Steven Caulker, Tom Carroll, Alex Pritchard, Keanan Bennetts, Luke Amos (probably), Josh Onomah, Marcus Edwards (highly likely), and Dennis Cirkin (probably). Dilan Markanday’s fee may possibly rise to over £1m in the future. There is a small caveat here that there may be one or two others, but it’s unlikely.
  • 4 players players (2.9%) have been sold for £10m or more. These are: Ryan Mason, Andros Townsend, Nabil Bentaleb and Kyle Walker-Peters. There is a possibility that Marcus Edwards’ 50% sell-on arrangement could result in a future fee of £10m or more. There is also a small possibility that Dilan Markanday’s sell-on arrangement could also result in a future fee that takes his total transfer fee to £10m or more.
  • 19 players (13.9%) have played significant minutes in the Premier League, Serie A or Bundesliga. I used my judgement here – i.e. Filip Lesniak (4 minutes) was excluded but Kevin Stewart (580 minutes) was included. Luis Binks (Serie A) would be a 20th player to include here if we were take into account the full range of intakes — he was in the 2018/19 intake.
  • A further three players have played significant minutes in the Eredivisie: Ismail Azzaoui, Tomislav Gomelt and Marcus Edwards.
  • 13 players (9.5%) have played significant minutes in the Championship; six of those were released and only Amos (possibly) and Markanday (possibly in the future) achieved a fee of £1m. None of them played more than 50 minutes for us.
  • 17 players (12.4%) have played significant minutes in League One (of these; nine of those were released. Only Dean Parrett played more than 100 minutes for us).
  • Ten (7.3%) players have played significant minutes in League Two (of these, nine were released, and one is still contracted to us (Jamie Bowden), and only Jake Nicholson and Cameron Lancaster (14 and 12 minutes respectively) played for us.
  • Four players played in the Scottish Premiership — two released, two sold for nominal fees.
  • Two players played in the Scottish Championship — one after being released, and Nathan Oduwa was there on loan and was eventually sold to Olimpija Ljubljana for a small fee.
  • There are then players who have played at other decent levels across Europe and beyond, and at least 10 who have played in the National League and below.
  • So that means 72 (52.6%) of our academy players have gone on to play in a top five league, the Eredivisie, the Championship, League One, League Two or the Scottish Premiership.
  • There are 21 (15.3%) full internationals, including six full England internationals.
  • NB: Omari Forson and Noni Madueke both left before joining the Academy as scholars.

Now for some comment.

53% of our academy players having played at those level feels quite low. I have nothing to compare to at other clubs, and I’m sorry to say that I don’t intend on doing this for other clubs — it was difficult enough for the club I’m actually interested in! If anyone knows of any similar analysis for other clubs, please do paste links in the comments. But yes, 53% feels low, though I think it’s improving significantly when considering hit rates of the more recent intakes.

I believe — and this is something I went big on in my initial article — that we have been poor at maximising profit on players we have let go. There are numerous examples of players who have gone on to be worth a lot more than we let them go for. Some examples are: Adam Smith (undisclosed fee, understood to have been small), Ryan Fredericks (undisclosed fee, understood to have been small), William Troost-Ekong (released), Kevin Stewart (released), Milos Veljkovic (£400k), Paul-José Mpoku (undisclosed fee, understood to have been around £350k), Nathan Byrne (released), Jordan Archer (released), Lee Angol (released), Kane Vincent-Young (released), Joe Pritchard (released). We could argue over whether we might have expected to achieve a higher fee for even those sold for the highest price — Kyle Walker-Peters (£12m) springs to mind, a player sold at a fairly low point, who is now worth double what we sold him for.

At the time of their transfers, it might have seemed as though they were worth little, or perhaps their contracts were nearly up, or perhaps they needed a fresh start and the club did not want to retain them against their wishes. My view is that careful management of your best academy prospects should mean that clubs are able to initiate strategic loans that help create value, and offer enough first team opportunities (be they training opportunities, bench places, or actual minutes) that we a) create value and b) keep the players interested enough to renew their contracts. And when I say ‘best academy prospects’, looking at the data we are not talking about high numbers, so this should be manageable.

We should be aiming for a situation where no players complete their scholarship and go on to either leave the game entirely or end up in non-league. That should be a rarity. Unfortunately, we are not there yet. I do, however, believe that a large proportion of those we release for free hold significant value and, with the right loan planning, could have been players we sold, possibly for a future sell-on percentage. This is something we have thought about and, arguably, improved upon in recent years — I think the sales of Sam Shashoua, TJ Eyoma, Jubril Okedina and Armando Shashoua (following loans) speak to this. But we need to do more of it. Why could we not have done this with George Marsh, rather than ending up releasing him? Same question for Jack Roles, Jaden Brown (who was transferred but, as I understand, for a nominal or no fee), Nick Tsaroulla; these were good players who we should have profited from.

We have to think: what is the purpose of our Academy? We invested heavily in the training ground and, of course, that wasn’t solely for the Academy, but it was certainly a part of the motivation. The narrative used to go that if you managed to rake in a combined million quid for your youth players every year, it would pay the running costs — I’d love to know if that’s still true. So what is the purpose? Is it to try to produce a couple of players a year for the first team squad? Is it to generate revenue? Is it to occasionally luck out with a Kane (or even a Skipp or a Winks or a Tanganga)? Or is it all of the above? In all cases, I think we can do quite a bit better.

I’ve got some more thoughts which I’ll likely follow-up with in a few weeks, but for now I wanted to share this piece of research, get any corrections or additional information from readers, as well as your comments on how you think we’re doing.


When we talk about ‘transition seasons’ at football clubs we generally mean that the club has moved from a previous poor performance, generally involving a parting of ways with the coach, to being on the road to better times. This has been a transition season for Spurs but, rather than being on the road to better times, we’ve reached the better times already.

Such is the quality of Antonio Conte, he has allowed our ‘transition season’ to essentially be a transition half-season. Even during the transition he got us winning.

But it’s the transition off the pitch that, for me, has been more important. I have made no secret of the fact that being a Spurs fan has been very difficult for me during the last couple of years. I felt completely disenfranchised and devoid of hope when he was our manager. I could not see any semblance of a workable system and there was nothing to dream on.

Nuno Espírito Santo wasn’t him (good) but he also wasn’t really anything (bad), and it always seemed like such a terrible fit. Fortunately it was a fleeting visit. Antonio Conte’s appointment felt massive because of his coaching ability and his record, but I did worry a little about how I’d find his deliberately abrasive and confrontational approach. It’s amazing how quickly I’ve adjusted to it.

I doubt that he’s ever going to occupy the same space that Mauricio Pochettino does for me — partly because the chances are that we’ll be a quick stop-off on his journey to a Galáctico, that’s how brilliant he is — and partly because I don’t believe that he is quite as invested in the club. Fair enough. But seeing him waving his arms on the touchline to urge support, seeing the way he has us playing, seeing the way that he has made use of some of the previously under-performing talent at his disposal… this is what it’s all about.

We go on and on as fans about what’s better: winning a cup or a top four finish. The truth, at least for me, is that unity is more important than either. If I feel bought into something, if I feel that we’re moving in the right direction, I can forgive almost anything. And I’ve got that back in spades. What is it they constantly say up the road? Trust the process. Except whereas they put blind faith in their long-winded and wasteful process, we have found a slick and efficient one.

So whatever happens today — and hopefully it’s the absolute obliteration of Norwich City Football Club as an entity (no offence, Canaries, I just want us to end on a high) — I want to thank Antonio Conte for bringing the spark back into my relationship with Spurs. I didn’t need handcuffs, role-playing, light spanking, a third party. I just needed direction.

COYS. I love you.

Twitter @TheExtraInch
Facebook TheExtraInch
The Extra Inch Podcast
The Extra Inch – Patreon – Become an xSub!
Or buy us a coffee 🙂