Zero points. That’s what Tottenham needed to show in home games against Southampton and Wolves and a trip to Chelsea in the Premier League last season – nothing.
Fast forward to the current campaign and Spurs have gained seven points from those same matches, with their unbeaten start to the campaign shining a spotlight on this multi-faceted team that Antonio Conte continues to carve.
From the fluid matchday one victory over Southampton to the draw at Chelsea and the 1-0 win over Wolves, Spurs have shown depth and range in their performances. For Conte, it’s the culmination of spending valuable time with his players.
“This team is maturing to take on different games,” he said exclusively. sky sports ahead of Spurs’ trip to Nottingham Forest on great sunday. “Last season we lost 3-2 to Southampton at home, we lost 2-0 away to Chelsea and we lost 2-0 at home to Wolves when I was in charge.
“Now to get seven points against these teams means we are doing well, we have improved in many situations. We have to keep going, but the team is showing great resilience, great ability to suffer in many situations. many situations, which may not have been the case. a lot has happened in the past.”
Conte continued: “For every coach it is very important to maintain the continuity of your work with the team. Of course, having eight months of work behind us was really important.
“We didn’t start from scratch, we started from an average level and now we continue to improve our tactical aspect and implement the team with new ideas. We have worked well on the physical aspect, and we must continue step by step.
“We have just started our process, it is not easy to be competitive against teams that have worked for the same coach for many years and have remained on top, but I think we are on the right track to do it.”
The time to instill his message is one thing, but having players with the receptivity and ability to carry out his instructions has been of equal importance to Conte’s transformation of Spurs.
While Richarlison, Yves Bissouma, Ivan Perisic and Djed Spence have come through the door this summer, the departures of Tanguy Ndombele, Giovani Lo Celso and Steven Bergwijn, among others, have streamlined a squad now very much like Conte.
“Like all clubs, we tried to improve,” he added. “I think our team had to improve and adapt because we are going to face four competitions
“Compared to last season, we have improved our team from a numerical and qualitative point of view. You know very well that playing a game every three days will be very difficult, after these games you start to understand if the team is strong, competitive.”
Having brought Spurs back to the Champions League at the expense of north London rivals Arsenal, Conte will be eager to extend the club’s encouraging start to the Premier League in a competition that has been the bane of his managerial career.
Conte won the Champions League as a player with Juventus but, since retiring, the Premier League and four-time Serie A winner has yet to make his mark on the European stage, winning just 14 of his 54 games as a Champions League manager.
It’s an unrecognizable record when placed alongside Conte’s achievements in domestic football, but, having been drawn against Eintracht Frankfurt, Sporting Lisbon and Marseille in the group stage, the platform is there to set the record straight. The question is: will luck favor Conte and Spurs’ quest for European glory?
“First of all, we are happy to be in the Champions League,” Conte said. “In November, when I arrived, nobody could imagine that Tottenham were going to play the Champions League because last season there were moments of great difficulty.
“We have to enjoy this competition. We have to stay humble, our group is a group with great balance. We want to go to the next round, but we know very well that this competition is difficult because you find the best teams in the world.
“We want to be competitive, we want to fight and show that we are on the right track, but the Champions League is a historically difficult tournament to win.
“You can be good, you can be strong, but you also have to be lucky, with the draw, not to get injured at the important moments. This competition is not easy.
“In the Premier League the team that wins is the most consistent team over 38 games, in the Champions League there are a lot of different situations, and you need a bit of luck to win.”
Before Spurs embark on their European adventure, they take on a club steeped in European heritage on Sunday when they travel to the City Ground to take on newly-promoted Nottingham Forest.
For Spurs, the message is simple, as Conte explains: “Usually when you play against a team that has won promotion, in the first season you find a team with a lot of enthusiasm, the atmosphere is very difficult, a lot noise when playing the Game.
“Nottingham Forest have started the season very well with four points, they have had a very good transfer market trying to improve their team.
“I repeat the same thing every time to my players and also to the media: it will not be an easy match, you know that you have to fight, be 100% concentrated, otherwise you will lose points, you will draw or to lose.”