What Changed Since Espirito Santo Left Tottenham?
It was almost exactly a month ago that a major change occurred in the life of Tottenham Hotspur: Nuno Espírito Santo, the head coach who has made his debut with the team in August, was let go. During his time, Espirito Santo achieved the best start of the Premier League season with the team and won his fourth Premier League Manager of the Month award the same month. But he had no chance to complete his contract: after the team lost four of its six Premier League matches, he was let go. His sacking was blamed for his lack of vision that became obvious even from a brief look at the Spurs results in a soccer app. What he left behind, in turn, is a club with resources that only needs the appropriate leader to become one of the elite clubs in the world.
Could this be Antonio Conte?
Antonio Conte spent almost two decades on the pitch as a midfielder for Lecce at first, and later for Juventus. He was instrumental in Juve winning five Serie A titles and a Champions League title, becoming one of the most decorated players at the club. He retired from active duty in 2004 and became a manager in 2006.
His managerial career started with a fiasco at Arezzo, followed by spectacular success at Bari, a team that he took from battling relegation to Serie C to Serie A in the 2009-2010 season. After working with Atalanta (again, a fiasco) and Siena (which he again took to the Serie A), he joined his former team Juventus as a manager for three seasons, each one crowned with a Panchina d'Oro. Upon being eliminated from the Champions League in the 2013-2014 season, Conte resigned from his position with the team. For two years, he managed the Italian national team, then left it to return to the “cut and thrust of club football” - Chelsea hired him in 2016 where he stayed for two years. From there, he went on to Inter Milan, once again for two years. And this summer, he left Inter by “mutual consent” over disagreement on the club’s transfers.
This takes us to the present day, Conte’s time with the Spurs.
What changed in a month?
One of the most important changes, since Conte took over, is the fitness of the team. The previous three managers seem not to have put too much focus on fitness (although it did improve initially under Espirito Santo). But when Conte took over, fitness became one of his priorities - getting the team up to the speed to be able to play his scheme.
Fitness is one of the key aspects on the pitch, one that impacts everything else - a fit player can go for more balls, does fewer questionable moves (thus reducing the number of yellow cards), has better ball control, and is generally more alert and active.
How does this translate to results? Well, since Conte took over, the Spurs beat Leeds, Brentford, and Norwich City in the Premier League, and the players are overall more active and alert on the pitch. Hopefully, the Spurs will overcome their current viral episode and return to the pitch stronger than before.