By Jonnie Langton
Since Antonio Conte’s appointment at Tottenham Hotspur in November 2021, he has been nothing short of a revelation.
After achieving Champions League qualification in the dying embers of last season and with a £150 million cash injection from ENIC the possibilities for Tottenham this season are endless. However, Spurs fans have mixed emotions about this coming campaign, with some feeling a trophy is on the horizon and others thinking it is too good to be true.
For those who are more optimistic about this season, with every right to be, Tottenham are already in the process of bolstering their squad. With the additions of Ivan Perisic, Yves Bissouma, Richarlison and Fraser Forster there is set to be serious competition for places as the North London side enters one of the most challenging seasons in their recent history. The transfer business is also set to continue with heavy links to Middlesborough right-back Djed Spence and Barcelona centre-back Clement Lenglet. These additions will be crucial for the tight scheduling of games this season due to the mid-season World Cup in Qatar.
"20150616 - Portugal - Italie - Genève - Antonio Conte" by Clément Bucco-Lechat, Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
Antonio Conte requested that transfers are completed before the team’s pre-season tour in South Korea, which differs from the usual last-minute signings from previous seasons. This will give the team time to mould and become strong as a unit going into league, domestic and European competitions. A full pre-season at Hotspur Way will allow Conte to ingrain his ideas into the new players and confidently pick his starting line-up for their first league game against Southampton. This certainly begs the question, could this be Tottenham’s year?
With teams around and above Tottenham adding even more talent to their ranks, it makes their chances of a title charge very unlikely. Despite this, the North London side will be hoping for a successful league campaign with a top four finish being seen as the absolute minimum. This should be achievable with one of the strongest forward lines in world football with Heung-Min Son, Harry Kane, Dejan Kulusevski and now Richarlison.
Away from the league, Conte has never been known for European success as a manager and with his appetite for success, it is unlikely that will be the source of trophy relief for Spurs fans this season.
However, domestic success is something the Lilywhites could realistically achieve, with Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea known to put out weakened sides in both EFL Cup and FA Cup matches. In the last decade, Tottenham have often reached the latter stages of domestic competitions but failed to go all the way. Antonio Conte could be the man to take them all the way this year and deliver long awaited silverware (as long as he isn’t sacked six days before the final).
The other side of the coin is that Tottenham are not going to amount to anything special this season and will lose faith in their Italian Godfather mid-season. This is where the crippling pessimism of many Spurs fans comes into play.
With the weight of the entire club and fanbase on his shoulders Antonio Conte has to deliver this season, especially with the rare financial backing of Tottenham owners, ENIC and Daniel Levy. The last time Tottenham put money forward was in 2004 when they raised £15 million and spent it on Jermaine Defoe and Jacques Santini. Now 10 times that amount is available, the pressure is on for the former Chelsea boss to deliver the kind of success he did at Tottenham’s London rivals.
If all goes wrong for Conte this season, the obvious replacement has recently become available in the form of Mauricio Pochettino, who has dreamt of a return to the club since his departure. This would be set up a fairy-tale narrative in the media for Pochettino to finish what he started at Spurs. After reaching the Champions League final and achieving the most points over the 2015/16 and the infamous 2016/17 season with only £7 million net spend but not winning anything, he would be desperate to make amends.
As things stand however, Antonio Conte is hoping to end the season with a trophy. As much as he will desire the Premier League success, that may become less realistic when Manchester City remain unbeaten by December with Erling Haaland on course for a record breaking debut season.
This is the most valuable Tottenham Hotspur Football Club has been worth and their miracle worker will be aiming to increase this value further, delivering a season to remember for the expectant fans.