Tottenham Hotspur. The gift that keeps on giving.
When Antonio Conte was appointed Spurs head coach in November last year, it was seen in two ways. Some people thought it was a great appointment that would get the club up and running in no time, while others weren’t so confident.
As the winner of 4x Serie A, 2x Supercoppa Italiana, 1x Premier League and 1x FA Cup titles, it’s no secret that Conte is a top coach.
But that’s the problem, he’s a winner who’s worked with world-class players everywhere he’s gone and his demands are high – going to Spurs has always been a problem.
Although the north London side are active in the January transfer window, bringing in Juventus duo Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski, Conte has publicly expressed his disappointment at not getting more backing from those above him.
Speaking to Sky Sport Italia, Conte said: “Four players left in January. Four important players for Tottenham, two arrived. So even numerically instead of strengthening you may have weakened on paper. .
“Because Tottenham are looking for young players, players to develop, not ready players. That’s the problem.
“It’s inevitable that if you want to grow faster and if you want to be competitive faster, you need players with a lot of experience because that also leads to an increase in experience in your squad. But again, the vision of the club I realized that was it and that I will continue to be.”
If you’ve ever needed confirmation that Arsenal were right to go for Mikel Arteta and his visionary long-term plan, then you’ve got it.
Despite pushing for a Champions League spot this season, the Gunners let several players go in January, including Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who scored 92 goals in 163 appearances over four years.
Still, Arsenal decided not to sign anyone and instead opted to stick with what they had for the rest of the campaign.
Arteta made it clear that he was happy with his current squad, reiterating that “Edu and his team have done a fantastic job” and explained that if it is not possible to sign the right players, “we decide not to not do it”.
I can only imagine that it’s times like these that Daniel Levy wishes he were in Edu’s shoes!
We’ve been there before, freaking out buying and spending a lot to get players to come and try to make a difference right away, sometimes it does more harm than good.
The Gunners seem to have realized this too, with a change in transfer strategy implemented last summer. Six new faces walked through the door, all aged 23 or younger.
It saw Aaron Ramsdale, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Martin Odegaard and Ben White join on a permanent basis, with the latter costing the most at £50m.
The names weren’t “groundbreaking” as such, and it wasn’t long before supporters began to question the club’s plan. But it soon became clear why the hierarchy decided to take this approach.
“Although we would like to jump from where we are to where we want to be in an instant, we have to be realistic that the gap is too big to do so. As such, our activity this window has been focused on young people “, Managing Director Vinai Venkatesham told staff.
“Our strategy is to fill our squad with some of the most exciting young talent in Europe, with players from our academy and beyond, who can grow and develop together under Mikel to take us where we want to go.”
That message was also echoed by manager Mikel Arteta, who felt a longer-term, sustainable route was needed while acknowledging the risks that come with it.
“It’s the complexity of this industry. We are trying to build a medium to long-term project, which needs immediate results. This only happens in elite sport and especially in football. We have to take up this challenge. It is what it is.”
The main takeaway from all of this is that Arteta knew exactly what he was inheriting at Arsenal. He knew a team overhaul was needed and realized that a whole new environment needed to be created.
Meanwhile, Conte continues to be himself and Spurs, well, continue to be Spursy. These latest developments provide further proof that Arteta was the best fit for us all along, not to mention the complete disaster that would most likely have unfolded at the Emirates if the former Chelsea boss was in charge.
Tottenham are coming off a third straight league defeat, with them currently sitting in 8th place and a trip to Manchester City ahead.
Arsenal will be hoping things will continue to be shaky for their rivals and results will continue to improve in the coming weeks.
If Antonio Conte doesn’t start getting itchy feet, I think he will soon.
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