Conte says Europa Conference League is 'important' to Tottenham
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Antonio Conte watched on from the sidelines as his Tottenham side were brutally humiliated against Slovenian side FC Mura, but the Italian is suffering what all of Mauricio Pochettino’s successors have had to deal with, after his demand was ignored by Daniel Levy in 2019.
Antonio Conte is the latest manager to pay the price for Tottenham’s bizarre decision to ignore the demands of former manager Mauricio Pochettino, as they were absolutely humiliated by Slovenian side FC Mura , losing 2-1 to a side founded just nine years ago in the UEFA Conference League.
Despite arriving in Slovenia as overwhelming favourites for Conte’s second taste of action in the third-tier of European competition, FC Mura stormed into a 1-0 lead, and things went from bad to worse as Ryan Sessegnon was sent off before half-time.
After 70 minutes of frustration, Harry Kane finally replied for Tottenham as he levelled the scores, but Spurs were stunned as they left themselves wide open and Amadej Marosa made himself a hero by netting a winner in the 94th minute to hand Mura their first ever European win.
Tottenham’s qualification is now in jeopardy and they face a must-win game against group leaders Rennes in the final clash of the group.
Conte is now realising just how big of a task he has on his hands at Tottenham, but Pochettino was aware of the struggles that Spurs would face back in 2019.
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It’s quite the fall from grace, as Tottenham have gone from Champions League finalists to struggling in the UEFA Conference League in the space of just two years, and even Conte may be concerned that he has taken on an impossible job.
Cast your minds back to the Pochettino era, the Argentinian had Tottenham playing some of the best football in Europe, and after narrowly missing out on their first ever Premier League title, they had the chance to win Europe’s ultimate crown.
They lost 2-0 to Liverpool in the final, but it was an extremely respectable run, although Pochettino knew back then that his squad had reached their peak, and it was time for an overhaul to keep their momentum going.
Pochettino issued a demand to chairman Daniel Levy following their Champions League final defeat back in 2019, as he said: “When you talk about Tottenham, everyone says you have an amazing house but you need to put in the furniture.
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“If you want to have a lovely house maybe you need better furniture, and it depends on your budget if you are going to spend money.
“We are brave, we are clever, we are creative. Now it’s about creating another chapter and to have the clear idea of how we are going to build that new project.
“We need to rebuild. It’s going to be painful.”
Pochettino’s plea was ignored by Levy, and just as the former boss warned, they struggled to perform as the team had reached their expiry date, and the Argentinian was sacked following a poor start to the new season.
Serial winner Jose Mourinho was brought in, but even ‘The Special One’ couldn’t create a miracle, and now Nuno Espirito Santo has experienced the sack after just 124 days in the job.
Levy continues to hold back and opt for shortcuts to resolve issues, but his attempts at cutting corners ultimately lead to regression and further pain down the line.
Who knows where Tottenham would be if they listened to Pochettino, and backed their most successful manager from the past decade, but one thing that’s for sure is that Conte will be putting his foot through the door of Levy’s office to ensure that he is granted the overhaul that was denied two years ago.
Tottenham need freshening up, and they need to drastically change their squad in order to get close to any form of success in the near future, something that they could’ve been experiencing now if Levy trusted his former boss in 2019.
Spurs have the dream home, and have seemingly landed the dream manager in Conte, but due to hesitation from the board and a lack of vision for what appeared inevitable to Pochettino, their identity no ceases to exist.
It’s time for Levy to hold off on running Tottenham like a Wall Street business for at least one season, as his assets will be considerably more valuable if he runs Spurs like a football club for the near future.
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