It has been a whirlwind seven days for Antonio Conte at Tottenham Hotspur.
This day last week, Antonio Conte’s Tottenham caused a major upset, beating Manchester City 3-2 and opening the Premier League title race wide up.
Following that victory, it was expected Spurs would kick on properly mount a challenge for the top-four.
However, just three days later, Tottenham lost to relegation-battling Burnley 1-0 and Conte seemed to lose it post-match, appearing to suggest he should leave Spurs because he is not able to change anything: “In the last five games we lost four games. I think nobody deserves this type of situation, but this is the reality. There will be assessment about the club and about me, because for me this situation is very frustrating.
“I am really sorry for this situation, especially for the fans – who really do not deserve this.”
“We are trying to get the best out of every single player. I’m too honest. I’m not used to this type of situation and I’m trying to change it but I’m not.
“We are doing everything to change the situation but it’s not enough. Four defeats out of five is not good enough. This doesn’t happen to me.
“Maybe I’m not so good. Tottenham called me to change things but I’m too honest.
“I could just take my salary but I’m too honest. We’ve lost four out of five games. This is unacceptable. “If we continue on this way, we have to pay great attention.”
What Antonio Conte said pre-Leeds
Conte was then even more outspoken in his pre-Leeds press conference on Friday.
The quotes were embargoed until late on Friday evening, but when they were eventually released, they once again seemed to suggest Conte was saying he is not a good fit for Tottenham.
The Italian did claim he is still totally committed to Tottenham, but then indicated that not many people at Tottenham are used to dealing with a coach like him who hates to lose:
“I have another year of contract with this club, but you know very well, no, that football is very strange. You can have three, four years of contract and a club can decide to sack you. Sometimes someone decides to go away
“I am totally committed to Tottenham and have a good relationship with the club and especially with Daniel, and he knows very well what my thoughts are. This is the most important thing for me and also because he wanted me here.
“When I arrived I didn’t ask for anything, but they knew they were taking an important coach, not a medium coach. I am a person who hates to lose, and maybe in this club not many [people] were used to this type of person.”
How Antonio Conte’s Tottenham changes paid off vs Leeds
Antonio Conte would stick with his trusted 3-4-3 formation for the Leeds match, but he did make two changes.
The first was an enforced one as Harry Winks came into midfield in place of the injured Rodrigo Bentancur. Elsewhere, Emerson Royal was dropped to the bench for Matt Doherty after the Brazilian’s dismal showing vs Burnley in midweek.
And whilst Conte stuck with a 3-4-3, the two wide Tottenham centre-backs – Cristian Romero and Ben Davies – were bringing the ball out into midfield much more than they had done vs Burnley.
And it would be both of Conte’s changes that helped hand Spurs the lead vs Bielsa and co.
Ryan Sessegnon burst down the left-flank before playing a low ball across the box which was met by Matt Doherty.
It was also Harry Winks who slipped in Sessegnon with a lovely ball for the pre-assist.
Matt Doherty gives Tottenham a 10th-minute lead ⚽️
A pinpoint Ryan Sessegnon cross and a crisp attack that slices open the Leeds defence! 👌 pic.twitter.com/HL9pOrv4XD
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) February 26, 2022
Tottenham’s lead was then doubled with 15 minutes on the clock as Dejan Kulusevski picked up the ball out wide, using his strength and determination to work a shooting angle for himself before smashing in his second Spurs goal, which was assisted by Matt Doherty.
How Antonio Conte reacted to Tottenham’s win over Leeds
Following that goal, Antonio Conte was pictured on the sidelines pumping his hands in their air in celebration.
And it is easy to see why the Italian reacted that way. As discussed above, this past week has been something of a nightmare for Conte who was clearly questioning his own ability and future role in north London.
But like all good managers, Conte was able to turn his side’s form around through smart decision-making and what will surely have been some harsh home-truths after his side’s loss to Burnley.
Yes, Leeds are in awful form right now, but Burnley are also in a relegation battle and Spurs still lost 1-0 to them.
Tottenham then made it 3-0 with 28 minutes on the clock after Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg’s lofted ball from midfield found Harry Kane, which once again promoted jubilant celebrations from Antonio Conte.
In the end, Tottenham came away with a very deserved 4-0 win. The Lilywhites looked much sharper in every area of the pitch, with their wing-backs, in particular, causing Leeds all sorts of issues.
Conte, who generally relies on big signings to help improve his teams, may not be the perfect fit for Tottenham. But if they can keep him happy, he probably has as good a chance as anyone of getting Tottenham back in the top-four.
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