Football: Tottenham appoint Conte as manager after sacking Nuno

Antonio Conte (left) was appointed a day after sacking Nuno Espirito Santo. PHOTOS: REUTERS, AFP, EPA-EFE

LONDON (REUTERS, AFP) - Tottenham Hotspur have appointed Antonio Conte as their new manager until the summer of 2023, the Premier League club said on Tuesday (Nov 2), a day after sacking Nuno Espirito Santo.

Former Chelsea and Inter Milan boss Conte replaces Nuno, who was sacked after 17 matches in charge, with last weekend's 3-0 home defeat by Manchester United in the league his final game with Spurs.

Conte had been out of work since terminating his contract at Inter in May, shortly after he led them to their first Serie A title in 11 years last season.

"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 (in the title race) again," Conte said in a statement.

"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."

Spurs, meanwhile, said: "We are delighted to announce the appointment of Antonio Conte as our head coach on a contract until the summer of 2023, with an option to extend.

"Antonio has won titles in Serie A, including a hat-trick of Scudettos with Juventus, the Premier League and also managed Italy, leading the Azzurri to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016."

Tottenham had topped the Premier League standings in August under Nuno after winning their opening three games but are now ninth, 10 points behind leaders Chelsea after 10 matches.

Conte's first game in charge will be Thursday's Europa Conference League match at home to Vitesse Arnhem.

Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy first approached Conte in the close season before hiring Nuno, but was said to have been put off by his reported demand for £100 million (S$184 million) to spend on new signings.

Having buried their differences following Tottenham's renewed approach, Conte now has to turn the tide at a club once again mired in mediocrity as they languish in mid-table.

Without a major trophy in 13 years, Spurs are further down the pecking order than the European heavyweight clubs Conte has previously managed.

Even from afar, Conte, then in charge at Chelsea, appeared to spot the lack of ambition at the heart of Tottenham's failings four years ago.

"If Spurs don't win the title, it's not a tragedy," Conte said at the time.

"If their ambitions are to fight for the title or win the Champions League, you must buy expensive players. Otherwise you continue to stay in your level. It's simple."

Changing that mentality will be Conte's mission in north London.

But his typically acerbic transfer broadside should also be remembered if he does not get the backing he will surely have requested from Levy.

Chelsea's failure to deliver the targets Conte wanted after he won the title infuriated him so much that he went public with his complaints, effectively condemning himself to the sack despite winning the FA Cup in 2018.

He also froze out Diego Costa at Stamford Bridge following a failed attempt to replace the striker.

Conte left Inter in acrimonious fashion after the club's owners angered him by revealing they had to sell several key players to balance the books.

The abrasive Italian certainly has his admirers, including Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, who has described him as a "master" tactically.

Antonio Conte when he was Chelsea manager, during a Premier League match against Spurs in August 2017. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

To achieve his ambitions at Tottenham, Conte will lay the foundations in his punishing training sessions.

"He is like a police sergeant," Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini once said of his time with Conte.

"When you finish training, you are dead. Not tired - dead. You can do it only because you believe in what he does."

If that sounds alarming for the Spurs players, they might be reassured by Conte's commitment to an attacking game plan.

Inter scored more than 100 goals for two seasons in a row in all competitions, while Conte dubbed Chelsea a "war machine" as they scored 85 goals on the way to winning the Premier League in his first season.

Conte will need to draw on all the weapons at his disposal as he starts potentially the most challenging role of his managerial career.

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