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WhichBookie sat down with ex-Tottenham and England star Darren Anderton to get his thoughts on the arrival of Antonio Conte at Spurs following Nuno Espírito Santo’s sacking on Monday after just 17 games in charge.
Here’s what Darren had to say…
I’m really impressed with the appointment of Antonio Conte. When you look around, who’s available, you have to say he’s the best man Spurs could have got. To get a winner, a proven winner, someone who does things his way, who won’t be swayed by anyone from above… I think it’s a fantastic appointment and one that needs to provide a little bit of a shake-up within the dressing room, within the team, and I think he’s the right man to do it.
I think Spurs are in a better position now than they were at the start of the season after appointing Nuno Espirito Santo. It’s easy to say that now, but when you’re talking about managers and who you want to manage, do you want someone that’s proven and been there, seen it, done it at the very highest level? And within the Premier League, he’s done it as well. Knowing what Antonio Conte has done, given the right opportunity, he’ll do the business and be successful.
If he sticks around long enough, he could eventually win a title with the club – why not? Spurs were in a great position a few years ago under Mauricio Pochettino where over two or three years they were finishing second or third. They were great times and the consistency over that amount of time was so impressive. It shows challenging for the title is definitely attainable, we know that, and under someone like Conte who’s been there and done it before, he knows how to get across the finish line. And that’s the biggest thing for me – managers that have been there, seen it and done it, once they put themselves into those positions come February, March then you’ve got a real chance of winning the Premier League. And Conte is definitely a guy who knows what it takes to win.
One of the first things that Conte will do is speak to Harry Kane and say: ‘If you stick with me, we’ll win things.’ I think that’s a fair comment so I hope it’s something that is said and Harry takes on board and then stays with the club. But then if things don’t go so well, Harry will still have that within him that he wants to win trophies. The reason he wanted to move on in the summer was because he felt that wasn’t the case at Spurs. Hopefully this appointment changes his mind and everyone will be happy.
Harry will be happy with the appointment. The way Conte’s teams play, very forward-thinking, pressing, playing at a high tempo, I think that will help Harry. The team has been playing in a very slow manner, very lethargic, methodical… And that creates a slowness that is easy to defend against and Harry has definitely suffered with that. He’s had a long summer with the Euros, with the speculation, mentally he must be absolutely drained from the Man City saga that didn’t work out for him, so this is just the boost that he needs, and it will give him a spring in his step again. Conte can absolutely get the best out of him again.
I think Conte’s the right man to return Spurs to the Champions League. Hopefully it happens very quickly. I don’t think Spurs will be far off the top four this season. When you look at it, Chelsea have really impressed me, Man City always, Liverpool have come back and look outstanding, but after that the top four this season is attainable. It’s very difficult, the league is getting better and better each year. But this Spurs team, with the talent that it has, with Conte, who knows? With confidence things can change very quickly. I’m going to say Spurs will finish in the top four.
I think Conte’s 3-5-2 system will be a success at Spurs. You’ve got to get the wing-backs playing high up the pitch and attacking. Sergio Reguilon will love it and it will be interesting to see if Conte will be able to get the best out of Matt Doherty as he was outstanding for Wolves playing in the same system. It hasn’t really worked for him here. Conte might come in and love him and know how to get the best out of him.
Another player I’d love to see him get the best out of is Tanguy Ndombele. Sometimes you can play with that extra man in the middle of the park in that system so he might have a bit of freedom, because a lot has been said about his work rate going the other way and his lack of defensive qualities. If he works hard and does all the right things within a system that could protect him a little bit, he could be one that really prospers. Let’s hope so as he’s a real talent.
When George Graham first came to Spurs, everyone thought ‘this is going to be a nightmare, we’re going to be running here, there and everywhere in training’. But I’ve always had the thought that a manager that makes his team work hard and for the team, and you’ve got talented players, I don’t know how you can complain about that? That’s exactly what you want. And on top of that, Conte is a proven winner. I’d have loved to have played for someone like that, I really would. He’s one of the world’s best managers, and if I was at Spurs at the moment I’d be thinking, ‘we’re struggling here, this is tough’. And if you can’t see things changing possibly and a manager like that comes in, you can’t help but be absolutely buzzing and want him in there as soon as possible to get started.