Tottenham chief Daniel Levy ‘feared Man Utd could launch Antonio Conte hijack’

Antonio Conte: In profile

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Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy reportedly feared that Manchester United could gazump Spurs to the appointment of Antonio Conte. The north Londoners announced the Italian’s arrival on Tuesday having moved quickly after sacking Nuno Espirito Santo fewer than 24 hours earlier. 

Conte had been linked with the United job after reports suggested Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could be sacked in the aftermath of the Red Devils’ 5-0 defeat by Liverpool 10 days ago.  

Solskjaer had overseen a terrible run of form, which included just two wins in his side’s previous seven matches.  

But the Norwegian was handed time to turn around results and responded with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Spurs on Saturday.  

That result sealed Nuno’s fate, with Levy dismissing the 48-year-old on Monday morning. A day later, Spurs confirmed the appointment of Conte on an 18-month deal. 

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According to The Athletic, Levy acted swiftly because he feared another downturn in form at United would prompt them to replace Solskjaer with Conte. 

The former Chelsea boss was actually a target for Spurs during the summer. Levy had set about finding a permanent successor to Jose Mourinho following Ryan Mason’s spell as caretaker manager.  

However, talks broke down over Conte’s concerns about spending and the possible departure of Harry Kane. The England captain was trying to manufacture an exit in the summer with Manchester City interested.

Spurs eventually landed Nuno but the Portuguese boss lost five of his 10 Premier League matches. There was also an embarrassing Europa Conference League defeat by Vitesse. 

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Conte was announced as Nuno’s replacement on Tuesday morning – and the 52-year-old praised the club’s ambition as he sent a message to the fans.

He waxed lyrical about the club’s facilities, which includes the incredible 60,000-seater Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.  

“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,” Conte said upon his arrival.

“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.”

Managing director of football Fabio Paratici added: “We are delighted to welcome Antonio to the club. His track record speaks for itself, with vast experience and trophies in both Italy and England. 

“I know first-hand the qualities Antonio can bring to us, having worked with him at Juventus, and look forward to seeing his work with our talented group of players.”
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