Spurs’ – and Conte’s – lack of fervour thrown into stark relief by Arsenal | Tottenham Hotspur

After the ultimate whistle, after the booing and brawling had subsided, as Arsenal’s giddy gamers jigged and danced their method over to their supporters within the nook, Yves Bissouma stood alone within the Tottenham half watching them. Watching with longing, and envy, and even perhaps a sure curiosity. Joy? Pleasure? Celebration? What are these unusual new issues?

By that stage, of course, Bissouma’s teammates had lengthy since retired to the heat of the dressing room. They didn’t wish to be there any longer, and nor did the Tottenham followers who had been already slogging down the High Road in search of liquid comfort. Antonio Conte, as he by no means tires of telling us, nonetheless desires to be right here. Ideally. Providing a number of necessary circumstances are met. It can hardly be his fault, in any case, that the membership retains disappointing him like this.

Conte is one of the world’s nice coaches. No quibbles there. But some coaches and golf equipment are merely the unsuitable match for one another. Tottenham have now performed six video games towards the remainder of the massive seven and misplaced each one, bar the late draw at Chelsea. What is the aim of Conte’s nous and expertise if to not navigate them via the largest video games? How many gamers have improved beneath him, developed, discovered new ranges? If you had been the sporting director at an elite European membership seeking to raid Tottenham for his or her finest younger expertise, who would you have a look at to construct a group round for the following 5 years?

Dejan Kulusevski, definitely. Rodrigo Bentancur and Cristian Romero, perhaps. Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, health allowing. The relaxation you’d in all probability discard. Bissouma, signed to such fanfare in the summertime, has retreated into himself. The similar for Ryan Sessegnon. Djed Spence could flip into a participant, however we’re not discovering out anytime quickly. Pape Sarr has promise, however throwing a debutant into a two-on-four midfield ambush in a sport of this dimension was an act of pure dereliction, and one with predictable penalties.

None of that is actually the problem, although. As Tottenham forlornly tried to really feel their method into a sport that had began with out them, the stench of gilded dysfunction poured out of each orifice. Heavy touches. Passes straight out of play. Passes to static gamers who had no room to maneuver. A genuinely unbelievable proportion of Tottenham assaults ended up with the ball at Hugo Lloris’s toes, as in the event that they had been making an attempt to attain the right group objective in reverse. At one level Pierre-Emile Højbjerg tried slightly diagonal dink to Kulusevski and ended up not merely placing it out of play, however sending it midway to Hornsey. There is a concern right here, a fatalism, sod’s regulation in soccer membership kind. What if that cross will get lower out? What if I lose possession? What if Arsenal counter? Don’t make a mistake. DON’T MAKE A MISTAKE.

Antonio Conte confirmed within the defeat towards Arsenal that he has didn’t result in any enchancment within the gamers beneath his cost. Photograph: Dylan Martinez/Reuters

Remember Arsenal’s first sport again after the World Cup? West Ham at house. Everyone’s questioning whether or not they nonetheless have it. Whether the break will kill their circulation. They go a objective down. And the noise that rises round them is a godly factor: a howl of defiance and conviction, a storm to scream down the storm. The gamers nonetheless keep in mind it fondly. Martin Ødegaard talked about it final week. It was their fortifying second.

Here Tottenham went a objective down. Nothing. Just the hiss of leaking air, a numbness, a dumbness. What if Arsenal win the league? What if Kane leaves? What is that this factor we have paid to look at? Our payments maintain rising, nothing works, final yr’s Golden Boot winner has forgotten the way to entice a soccer and it has been raining for about 4 months. Best to take a seat quietly and look ahead to this to cross, which it is not going to.

There are lots of issues right here that aren’t Conte’s fault, however one necessary factor that’s. Conte just isn’t answerable for the years of dysfunction that preceded him, Son’s mystifying decline, the uneven squad he inherited. It just isn’t Conte’s fault that Arsenal are nearly as good as they’re, their motion so exact, excessive order within the garments of excessive chaos, Ødegaard a person enjoying in his personal private metaverse, Bukayo Saka a winger who merely refuses to let you could have the ball.

But when a coach’s dedication to the membership feels so conditional, why ought to anybody else sweat and bleed for it? Conte just isn’t married to this challenge as Pep Guardiola is to Manchester City or Jürgen Klopp to Liverpool. He doesn’t empathize with Tottenham as Mikel Arteta does with Arsenal or Gareth Ainsworth with Wycombe. This is a job, and a strictly limited-term job at that, a job to maintain him going till one thing higher comes alongside. His precedence, career-wise, is solely to not mess up. Grasp that, and the whole lot you see on the pitch makes slightly extra sense.

Where we go from right here is anybody’s guess. The Conte interregnum ought to at the very least finish Daniel Levy’s masochistic obsession with managers who consider the membership is beneath them. A membership of Tottenham’s dimension shouldn’t be making an attempt to rent the final nice coach however the subsequent, the visionary who can choose via this shambles piece by piece, maintain what works and sweep away what would not. At the very least, it ought to discover somebody who actually, unconditionally desires to be there. Why, certainly, ought to any membership accept something much less?

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