Football: Conte approaches one-year anniversary at Spurs with plenty of optimism

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte is said to be in talks over a new long-term contract. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

LONDON – As Antonio Conte approaches his one-year anniversary at Tottenham Hotspur – he was appointed on Nov 2, 2021 – he will be pleased about what the future might bring.

The Italian has his chairman’s backing – Daniel Levy has often, in private, said that Conte is the best coach he has worked with, according to a report from The Athletic – and is said to be in talks over a new long-term contract.

Multiple British media have also noted that Levy has given the green light for Spurs to make several new signings in the January transfer window, allowing Conte to strengthen his squad as he targets a title challenge in the English Premier League.

His wish list is rumoured to include midfielders Ruslan Malinovskyi, Weston McKennie from Atalanta and Juventus in Serie A respectively.

Saturday’s 3-2 win at Bournemouth was a welcome return to winning ways, after league defeats by Manchester United and Newcastle United had put a dampener on an impressive start to the season and kept Tottenham in third spot and touching distance of north London rivals and leaders Arsenal.

Conte, whose current deal ends this season – though Spurs have an option to extend it by a year – will turn his focus back to the Champions League as his side visit Marseille for Tuesday’s final Group D game.

All four teams can still qualify for the knockout rounds. Tottenham are top with eight points, followed by Sporting Lisbon and Eintracht Frankfurt, both a point behind. Marseille have six points.

Conte, who will not be on the touchline after his red card that followed Harry Kane’s disallowed winner against Sporting in the previous round, said on Saturday that the manner of the comeback on the south coast means they will now travel to the Stade Velodrome with confidence.

“It was vital for us this win, especially after two losses in the Premier League, and now this win has given us enthusiasm and passion for going into Marseille and for playing a final,” said Conte, whose team need a point in France to reach the last 16 of Europe’s elite club competition.

He could be missing some key men for the clash with the Ligue 1 giants.

The trio of Dejan Kulusevski, Richarlison and Cristian Romero were absent from Monday’s open training at Hotspur Way. Richarlison scored both goals in the reverse fixture in early September, when Spurs won 2-0.

Defender Ben Davies, who scored the equaliser after Spurs had gone 2-0 down to Bournemouth, said: “We got out of a mini rut we were in. It didn’t really matter how we did it, just as long as we got the three points.

“The games are coming thick and fast, every couple of days. We have to take the results when you can. It gives us a bit of confidence before we face Marseille.”

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