Antonio Conte: In profile
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As Antonio Conte prepares to take over and rescue Tottenham from their nightmare start to the season, the words of Sir Alex Ferguson about the ex-Chelsea boss give an accurate insight into what the fans can expect from the Italian after returning to England for the first time since his firing.
Conte is expected to put pen to paper on an 18-month contract on Tuesday to succeed Nuno Espirito Santo, who was sacked on Monday after just 124 days in charge.
The Italian has been out of work since June after resigning from his role as Inter Milan coach, just weeks after guiding the Nerazzurri to the Serie A title.
The 52-year-old stepped down in protest over the club’s decision to cash in on important players such as Achraf Hakimi and Romelu Lukaku.
Conte turned down the Spurs job in June after being approached by chairman Daniel Levy and sporting director Fabio Paratici and had also been strongly linked with replacing Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United.
But Spurs gave Nuno his marching orders, it is understood Paratici has convinced his compatriot and former colleague at Juventus to take on the project.
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The tactician has a knack for transforming average teams into title contenders. He arrived at Chelsea in 2016 off the back of a successful stint in charge of the Italy national team.
Having seen the Blues finish 10th in 2015-16, Conte got the best out of his squad to guide Chelsea to the Premier League title in his debut campaign.
His 3-4-3 formation has since revolutionised English football, with Chelsea thriving in the setup under Thomas Tuchel and other managers following suit.
And Ferguson, one of the game’s greatest managers after his 27-year trophy-laden reign at Manchester United, was vastly complimentary about the former Juventus coach.
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When asked about Conte’s managerial ability in 2017, Ferguson told Sky Sports: ”Fantastic, you see his energy on the pitch.
“There’s a true saying that the team mirrors the manager, and that’s what they’ve done with him.
“His team have stayed top of the league for so long. They lost to Arsenal and Liverpool early on, but since then they’ve been up.”
One of the criticisms of Nuno was that his side often looked lethargic and their football was slow and unenjoyable.
That was certainly the case as they failed to register a shot on target in a home match for the first time since statistical data was recorded from 2003, as Manchester United ran out 3-0 winners.
But under Conte, he encourages a high level of intensity on the counter-attack that very few managers can bring to their side and Spurs desperately require some new impetus after a below-par start to the season.
One of his most challenging tasks will be to help Harry Kane rediscover his best form after going nine games in the Premier League without scoring.
But it certainly seems likely that with pacy wingers Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min there to support the 28-year-old, he will be firing again in no time.
It remains to be seen how Conte will operate at a club where chairman Levy and Paratici enjoy so much power.
The Blues made the brutal decision to part ways with Conte at the end of the 2018-19 after they had beaten Manchester United to win the FA Cup.
There were disagreements regarding the role Conte preferred to have over transfers with director Marina Granovskaia and he publicly criticised signings, accusing the club of lacking ambition.
“The club knows very well what is my idea, what is my ambition,” Conte said back in May 2018.
“That is very clear. That ambition must always be the same.
“When you decide to work with this type of coach, you must understand that you take a coach with great ambition. Not a loser but a winner.
“For this reason, you must understand this.”
Levy and Paratici have been warned: back Conte or risk having to find their third permanent manager since April.
But at least for the next 18 months, Tottenham fans can look forward to watching their side in action after some dire displays in Nuno’s brief reign.
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