Earlier today, Tottenham Hotspur announced the appointment of Antonio Conte as their new head coach, after Nuno Espirito Santo was sacked on Monday following an unsuccessful four-month period in charge.
The Italian has been without a job since leaving Inter Milan in the summer, having led the Nerazzurri to the Serie A title last season, and is widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the game.
In an interview with the club’s official website, Conte said:
“I am extremely happy to return to coaching, and to do so at a Premier League club that has the ambition to be a protagonist again.
Tottenham Hotspur has state-of-the-art facilities and one of the best stadiums in the world.
I can’t wait to start working to convey to the team and the fans the passion, mentality and determination that have always distinguished me, as a player and as a coach.
Last summer our union did not happen because the end of my relationship with Inter was still too recent and emotionally too involved with the end of the season, so I felt that it wasn’t yet the right time to return to coaching.
But the contagious enthusiasm and determination of Daniel Levy in wanting to entrust me with this task had already hit the mark. Now that the opportunity has returned, I have chosen to take it with great conviction.”
Spurs fans will now be hoping Conte can bring success to north London, but what does his appointment mean for Fantasy Premier League (FPL) managers, and can he make their assets more appealing?
Our Scout Report takes a closer look.
“My past speaks very clear as a player and as a manager. You can say what you want, but I’m a serial winner.” – Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte was born in Lecce, and began his playing career at his hometown club before moving to Juventus in 1991, where he won five Scudettos, a UEFA Cup and a UEFA Champions League. At international level, he won 20 caps for Italy and was part of the successful squads that finished runners-up in the 1994 World Cup and EURO 2000.
After retiring, Conte began his early years in the dugout at Siena, Arezzo, Bari and Atalanta, before taking over at Juventus in 2011, which is where he launched his managerial career to new heights. In his debut season in Turin, he won the title and remarkably finished the campaign unbeaten. He then repeated the feat in each of the next two years, delivering a Serie A record points tally in 2013/14.
Conte then took charge of the Italian national team, replacing Cesare Prandelli, and led them to the quarter-finals of EURO 2016, topping their group and beating Belgium and Spain along the way, before losing on penalties to Germany.
After two years at the helm, he then returned to club management at Chelsea, where like at Juventus, he secured the league title at the first time of asking, which included an excellent run of 13 straight victories. During that campaign, he showcased his tactical nous by switching to a back three formation after defeat at Arsenal, and then went on to win the FA Cup the following year. However, they missed out on a Champions League spot, and as a result, he departed the club shortly after.
Following a break, Conte moved back to Italy and Inter Milan in 2019. He went close in his first year, finishing second in Serie A whilst reaching the final of the UEFA Europa League, but then guided the Nerazzurri to their first title in 11 years in 2020/21, ending Juventus’ domestic domination.
“I like to study everything: the way to be dangerous when you are attacking, what the players should do when you don’t have the ball, where they should be. The tactics you tell the players to follow come from all this study.”
Antonio Conte has tended to favour three-at-the-back formations throughout his managerial career, while also adopting a direct approach which aims to move the ball forward quickly.
At Juventus, he almost exclusively used a 3-5-2 shape, before doing likewise with Italy at Euro 2016. Then, when first appointed at Chelsea, he successfully switched to a 3-4-3 shape after a disappointing 3-0 defeat at Arsenal, while more recently, at Inter, he again used used variations of a 3-5-2. That is where he utilised Romelu Lukaku (£11.5m) and Lautaro Martinez up front to devastating effect, with Achraf Hakimi also thriving from his advanced right wing-back role.
Historically, he has made his teams very difficult to break down, and in each of his four title-winning seasons in Italy, his team’s conceded the fewest number of goals in the division. However, that’s not to say his teams don’t attack, which was evident only last season, when his Inter side racked up 89 Serie A goals.
A STRONG STARTER
In previous positions, Conte has been a strong starter, and has been able to convey his ideas and tactics to his players quickly.
At Juventus, his team started with a 4-1 win over Parma, and remained unbeaten in the league all season, while at Chelsea, he also lifted the Premier League title at the first time of asking, winning their opening three matches.
More recently at Inter, his team made a real statement of intent, too, taking three points in each of their opening six fixtures.
|Inter (2019/20)||Chelsea (2016/17)||Juventus (2011/12)|
|Inter 4-0 Lecce||Chelsea 2-1 West Ham||Juventus 4-1 Parma|
|Cagliari 1-2 Inter||Watford 1-2 Chelsea||Siena 0-1 Juventus|
|Inter 1-0 Udinese||Chelsea 3-0 Burnley||Juventus 1-1 Bologna|
|Milan 0-2 Inter||Swansea 2-2 Chelsea||Catania 1-1 Juventus|
|Inter 1-0 Lazio||Chelsea 1-2 Liverpool||Juventus 2-0 Milan|
Antonio Conte’s opening five league results at Inter, Chelsea and Juventus
However, things are different this time, as he is taking on a job 10 league games in. That suggests that we may have to wait till next year to see Conte’s best work on the pitch, after a full pre-season with his squad, though given his pedigree, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise if they hit the ground running, especially considering Spurs’ immediate schedule, as they sit top of our Season Ticker for ease of fixture between Gameweeks 11 and 15.
After just one goal in nine Premier League appearances in 2021/22, one of Conte’s first tasks is surely to get Harry Kane (£12.1m) firing. Interestingly, the Italian tactician may already have a plan to do that, having discussed the England captain during his punditry work at EURO 2020:
“Many praise Harry Kane for his ability to go get the ball and play with the team, such as with the equaliser against Denmark. Of course, he’s good at that too, but it’s in the box where he’s clinical and as a coach, I would always keep him in there because he’s devastating.”
Conte even labelled Kane as one of the world’s best strikers when he was in charge of Chelsea back in 2017:
“If I had to buy one striker I would go to Kane. He is a complete striker. He is strong physically, with the ball, without the ball, he fights and he’s strong in the air and acrobatic on the right and the left.
He’s a complete player. He’s one of the top strikers in the world. If you go to buy Kane now it would be at least £100m.”
The Italian’s arrival could spark a revival for three-time golden boot winner Kane, then.
That could perhaps be alongside Son Heung-min (£10.2m) in Conte’s favoured 3-5-2 formation. If that is indeed the case, the South Korean international would essentially be playing as a striker, and would surely thrive, given his finishing ability and work-rate.
It’s also worth noting that Conte has a knack for getting the best out of forward players, whether that’s Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente at Juventus, Eder and Graziano Pelle at Italy, or more recently, Lukaku and Martinez at Inter. The latter’s partnership was especially productive, with the Belgian’s hold-up play complementing his team-mates movement excellently. They ended up with 41 league goals between them last season, and you can see Spurs’ front two enjoying similar roles in Conte’s system.
At Inter, right wing-back Hakimi bagged seven goals and 11 assists last term, Ashley Young (£4.8m) produced one goal and four assists, while at Chelsea, Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso (£5.6m) both thrived playing higher up the pitch. A three-at-the-back system could really suit Sergio Reguilon (£5.0m), then, or perhaps Emerson Royal (£4.9m) or Matt Doherty (£4.7m), knowing that they have plenty of defensive protection.
It’s also worth noting that Cristian Romero (£4.9m) was one of the best defenders in Italy last season playing in a back three, while midfielders like Arturo Vidal, Paul Pogba and Nicolo Barella have excelled under the Italian’s tutelage, which could be good news for Tanguy Ndombele (£5.8m), who Conte reportedly tried to sign when at Inter.
The arrival of Conte comes ahead of Thursday’s UEFA Europa Conference League clash against Vitesse, before his team then travels to Goodison Park on Sunday to take on Everton in Gameweek 11. And though he may need a full pre-season to truly get his ideas across, his track record suggests that he can be a fast starter, which would suddenly promote the likes of Kane, Son and Reguilon as excellent options for our FPL squads, with huge differential potential.
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