NORMAN GILLER’S SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 381
Submitted by Norman Giller
Antonio Conte is the 23rd manager to take charge at Tottenham in my 70 years watching Spurs. I feel in my old bones that he is going to prove one of the most successful, certainly the most energetic.
I used to watch him play with distinction for Juventus and Italy, a sort of cross between Roy Keane and Paul Scholes. Study him on the touchline now and you will see that he still has that explosive energy he showed on the pitch. He is a bundle of action in his coaching area and publicly tongue lashes any player not giving 100 per cent effort for the team.
This is not a look-at-me-act as we used to get from one of his very recent preening predecessors, but a sincere, intense involvement in every second of every match. He frightens the life out of me and I am just a spectator. His bite is even worse than his bark.
It is a dedication to his job that has worked impressively for Conte on his long journey to Tottenham. He captured the Premier League championship during his two seasons at Chelsea, and while managing Juventus won three Serie A titles and another with Inter Milan. He is a born winner and will take players with him to the soccer stratosphere … but only if they are willing passengers.
Conte will eat alive anybody who does not follow him with passion and purpose. Are you listening, Harry Kane?
The smartest thing Antonio has done since taking over from the always-doomed Nuno Espirito Santo is appoint as his right hand man Ryan Mason, who was interim manager following the sudden departure of Jose Mourinho.
Ryan is somebody who the suddenly enigmatic Harry Kane trusts and they are close friends away from the village world of football. If a combination of Conte and Mason cannot persuade ‘Our Harry’ that his future lies with Tottenham, then I think we could be waving goodbye to him during the January transfer window.
As our Spurs Odyssey guru Paul H. Smith reports HERE, Kane hardly made a pin prick impression in yesterday’s goalless draw at Everton when, in fairness, he was not helped by Conte’s surprisingly cautious defensive formation. It will be fascinating during the international break to see if Harry is retained as England captain by manager Gareth Southgate.
Let’s be honest, his club form does not merit him retaining his place at the head of the England attack, but Southgate tends to be out of the Alf Ramsey school, taking little notice of club form.
The Conte way of managing is to demand from his players total commitment, both physically and mentally. The fact that he has appointed three fitness coaches is a signal he is expecting each of his squad members to be fit and toned in the style we grew accustomed to during the Mauricio Pochettino reign.
Conte discovered while watching shot-shy Spurs at Goodison the size of the job he faces. He is going to have to earn every penny of his reported £15m a year salary if Tottenham are going get back to being a top four power.
The next eight matches look far from intimidating on paper, but it’s on the pitch that it matters:
Leeds United (home, Premier League), Sunday November 21, kick-off 4.30
Mura (away, Euro Conference), Thursday November 25, kick-off 5.45
Burnley (away, Premier League), Sunday November 28, kick-off 2.00
Brentford (home, Premier League), Thursday December 2, kick-off 7.30
Norwich City (home, Premier League), Sunday December 5, kick-off 2.00
Rennes (home, Euro Conference), Thursday December 9, kick-off 8.00
Brighton (away, Premier League), Sunday December 12, kick-off 2.00
Leicester City (away, Premier League), Thursday December 16, kick-off 7.30
I expect Conte will give the current squad two months to prove themselves, and will then not hesitate to buy big and ambitiously if they fail to meet his sky-high standards. As I understand it, the only reason he agreed to take the job is that he knows there is a treasure chest to dip into if he considers it necessary.
Interesting times ahead, friends. Buckle your safety belts.
The 13th week of season eight of the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League challenge, and the question is:
Who has played 109 matches for his country including in a World Cup final, and which Bundesliga club did he join from Tottenham in 2012?
Please email your answer to me at email@example.com and make the subject heading Quiz Week 13. Deadline: midnight this Friday. I will do my best to respond to all who take part.
The rules are the same as in the previous seven seasons. I ask a two-pronged question with three points at stake – two for identifying the player and one for the supplementary question. In the closing weeks of the competition I break the logjam of all-knowing Spurs-history experts with a tie-breaking poser that is based on opinion rather than fact. That’s when I become as popular as Sol Campbell in an Arsenal shirt.
This year’s prizes for the champion: A rare out-of-print book from my now very special Greavsie collection with autographs from the late, great Jimmy Greaves, Dave Mackay and Steve Perryman, and, most important of all, a framed certificate announcing the winner as SOQL champion 2022. Plus a signed copy of My 70 Years of Spurs book AND a special bonus prize, the Eighty At Eighty book that I have written in harness with Sir Geoff Hurst, still the only man to score a World Cup final hat-trick.
Answer to question No 12: Which Lancashire-born, former Spurs player has been awarded 35 caps and with which club has he won a La Liga title?
Kieran Trippier, the polished left-back who since joining Atletico Madrid has won a La Liga championship medal. Sadly, he seriously damaged a shoulder against Valencia yesterday and had to receive hospital treatment.
See you back here same time, same place next week. COYS!
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