Antonio Conte started his life at Tottenham with a win in the Europa Conference League against Vitesse Arnhem – a team that had given one of the last nails in Nuno Espirito Santos’ coffin.
But there were both reasons to be pleased with what he saw and indicators of the hard work ahead of him and his staff to whip this squad into shape.
Conte has not had time to make his mark this week. The former Juventus, Chelsea and Inter boss was only hired on Tuesday and had only been introduced to the players and seen the training as a spectator when he was officially given the go-ahead to take responsibility on Thursday.
He therefore did not really change the staff, but chose 10 of the 11 players who had started Nuno’s last match this weekend, a 3-0 sad defeat against a struggling Manchester United. But he immediately put his brand 3-4-3 system in place and it will be a crucial part of any future success.
There is no doubt about the attacking quality of the Spurs squad and Conte will be happy to work with such good players as Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura.
All three strikers were involved when Spurs took a 3-0 lead within the first half hour. It is also promising for the full-back positions – so crucial roles in any Conte team – with Sergio Reguilon and Emerson Royal advancing to the left and right respectively.
But where Conte has to get to work quickly is on the defensive side of the ball. He is known for his intense, physically demanding style of play that requires constant pressure and running. It was missing from Spurs, especially after they went up 3-0, which was what made Vitesse able to fight their way back into the match relatively easily before the first half was over.
At the score 3-2, the visitors looked confident and both sides could have scored the next goal at that stage – but for a save from Hugo Lloris early in the second half, it could very well have been 3-3.
First match, first win. ✅
But there is plenty of room for Antonio Conte to work on … pic.twitter.com/UXSLaAnQzN
– 90 min (@ 90min_Football) November 4, 2021
Conte will also have to polish the rough edges that remain, like Cristian Romero’s propensity for a ruthless challenge. The Argentine was sent off after collecting a yellow card in each half, which put a lot of pressure on his teammates until Vitesse had his own player sent off. Careful coaching will be required to curb it and attract the quality defender who is within him.
Spurs made it unnecessarily difficult for themselves, but a win is a win and now Conte will have a much clearer picture of how he will approach his latest project.
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