Antonio Conte is a proven winner, but it will take some time before we see that at Tottenham.
Over the course of his almost 16-year managerial career, the 52-year-old Italian has won nine major honours – with two of them coming in England when in charge of Chelsea.
His resume speaks for itself, and that is why – if there was any doubt – he needs more time than his predecessor was handed at Spurs.
Nuno Espirito Santo was not the club’s first-choice manager, that was clear from the start, with Mauricio Pochettino and Paulo Fonseca both wanted over the summer, before the former Wolves boss was finally appointed at the start of July.
Nuno lasted just 17 competitive matches in charge at Tottenham, and in that time he failed to create a clear identity to the way Spurs played their football – something Conte has already done.
Since Conte was appointed, Tottenham’s players have been running an incredible amount more than what they were under Nuno, and this was clear to see in performances like the one in the draw with Liverpool back in December.
There has also been an evident change in the attacking play on offer and it has seen improvement from Harry Kane, who was way below-par under Nuno earlier in the season.
The major issue Conte has on his hands is his squad. It’s as simple as that. He’s made no secret of that, either, with the Italian hinting that he needs signings in order to become a success in north London.
Speaking last month, the Spurs boss said: “I’ve made evaluations about the squad. I have spoken with the club and I hope the club will listen to me.”
The “evaluations” Conte eludes to has seen the likes of Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso, Bryan Gil and Dele Alli all leave the club at the end of last month.
He did of course manage to bring Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski to the club late on in January, with both showing glimpses – particularly the former – of what they can bring to north London.
The summer transfer window will be an absolutely huge one for Conte to get his Tottenham career up and running. There is so much in the way of ‘dead-wood’ in the squad that needs to be cleared.
Cristian Romero has been superb since returning from his long-term injury, while Eric Dier has impressed when fit, but apart from those two, there could be cases made of the rest of the centre-back department being shipped off in the summer.
The midfield needs some additions, there is no doubt about that. Tottenham need a ball-carrier – someone like former Spurs midfielder Mousa Dembele, who showed what a terrific footballer he was in his prime.
The shell of the midfield is promising, though, especially since Bentancur’s addition. Oliver Skipp has a top future ahead of him, while Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg has been impressive since signing for the club.
The likes of Harry Winks, though, needs to move on for the sake of his own career.
Steven Bergwijn has potential, but he has failed to show it recently despite his two-goal heroics against Leicester City last month.
It would come as no shock to anyone if Bergwijn was to leave at the end of the season, with Ajax said to be interested in the January transfer window, but if he does go, then Spurs need to go out and spend big on an upgrade.
The Kane transfer saga looks likely to resurface in the summer, especially if Tottenham fail to win a trophy again. It’s highly unlikely Daniel Levy will entertain an offer under £100million for Kane.
Of course Tottenham fans will not want to lose Kane, and neither will Levy, but should he leave, the extortionate fee received for him should be spent on two or three areas rather than a direct replacement for the England captain.
A central defender, midfielder and a centre-forward – if Kane leaves – are needed for Conte to seriously compete next season and close the gap on the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City.
Conte has barely been here two minutes, but after three straight defeats, the pressure is inevitably going to start forming on any manager, but he needs backing.
He needs serious help from the likes of Fabio Paratici and Levy in the summer, otherwise it will be another failed managerial experiment at Spurs.