Saturday, January 28, 2023

Head vs Heart? The Conte vs Pochettino Conundrum

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Bernard Ford
A Leicester City fan. Wants respect from the 'London based' media for clubs outside the bubble.

In November 2022, Tottenham Hotspur appointed one of the best coaches in the world to manage their football club. Spurs fans were cockahoop at the appointment of Antonio Conte, having just been subjected to three years of Jose Mourinho and Nuno Espirito Santo. The football was boring and they simply weren’t winning anything. Mourinho was antagonising the fans and was being stubborn in his beliefs, so he wasn’t using the phenomenon that is Gareth Bale. Some Spurs fans still haven’t quite gotten over that. And then to make things worse, Harry Kane then announced his intention to leave. The future looked bleak for Spurs before Conte-Fever arrived in North London. So why are we writing this article? What does Mauricio Pochettino have to do with anything? Well, believe it or not, some Spurs fans are not happy with Antonio. We believe it has something to do with Mauricio Pochettino. Here’s why.

The style of football

Yes, Conte is a proven winner. He has won leagues in England and Italy, proving that he knows how to win in tough circumstances. That Chelsea team that very nearly broke the record for consecutive wins was a joy to behold. And they didn’t play boring football either. This can be a myth when Conte is concerned. His teams score goals and they win leagues. What else could you ask for?

Well, Conte can sometimes slip into defensive mode if he does not trust his players. He is very vocal in his press conferences and will let the fans know why he is playing with the handbrake on. In some ways, Spurs fans are unhappy because he is doing exactly what Mourinho used to do. When Tottenham play on the front foot, they look superb. However, the team does have a weak defence, which is why Conte tells them to sit back. It is not really clear why, but for Spurs fans it reminds them too much of Jose and Nuno. They have been burned by past experiences and can’t look past it. Under that man Mauricio Pochettino (more on him later), Spurs constantly played on the front foot and were definitely the most exciting team to watch in the league. On form they were magnificent, and ironically it was only Conte’s Chelsea that kept them at bay.

Stubborness with players

Why on earth does he still play Emerson Royal? The Lilywhites fans constantly roll their eyes when they see Emerson on the teamsheet. He seems like a lovely lad, but he is not of the standard Spurs fans expect from a player who is in such a key position. Is it Conte being so stubborn and sending a message to the Board? “I need a better player”. There is no obvious reason. Djed Spence was signed with such excitement and it has dwindled away. He’s not even gone out on loan to get minutes under his belt. That is why Spurs fans are so angry and annoyed, there does not seem to be a plan.

Additionally, Yves Bissouma was signed and it felt like a real coup for Spurs. Big clubs were interested and Spurs got him at a snip of the price it was expected they would. But again Conte is taking ages to play him whilst he integrates him into the 1st XI. Whilst Rodri-goal Bentancur and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg have been in fantastic form, there is still space for Bissouma in a 3-5-2 formation. That is what Spurs fans are crying out for. But they do have to sit back sometimes and remember, Conte gets paid the big bucks for a reason, and they pay the money to watch. Pochettino loved a packed midfield and had Harry Kane and Dele Alli leading the way up top. Some Spurs fans do forget that it is a different team now… well mostly.

Conte is not Pochettino

This is quite simply it. Mauricio Pochettino took Spurs from the consistently fifth-best team in England to title challengers on a shoestring budget. In many regards, he overperformed and it was his downfall.  The fans really took to him and he was just this approachable, friendly but quality coach that the fans adored. The Board, the fans and the players were all just pulling in the same direction. It was a fantastic time to be a Spurs fan. And that is probably now the issue.

For many Spurs fans, the head says that Conte is the best thing that could happen to Spurs and he will turn them into a juggernaut. But the heart still yearns for the fast, attacking and friendly approach of Mauricio Pochettino. They just can’t let go. And of course it doesn’t help matters that Conte is well known for leaving in a short space of time and Tottenham fans do not want to get attached again. It also doesn’t help that Pochettino has often expressed a desire to return to the club that he has so many great memories. That means Tottenham supporters will constantly live in hope that he does come back.

What will Daniel Levy do?

For now, you’d have to be a brave man to bet against Antonio Conte achieving some sort of success with Spurs. Daniel Levy thinks he has got his ideal man, but even he still has a close relationship with Pochettino. So where would you put your money? The most likely scenario for supporters looking in from the outside is that Conte sees out the season and Poch comes in the summer. If you are a gambling person then there are plenty of sites out there where you could get the best odds on Pochettino as the next Spurs manager. It could be worth a flutter but you can never guess what Levy will do next.

Alternatively, if sports betting isn’t your thing, then there are plenty of other ways you can profit this Winter. Whilst Spurs fans wrestle with their hearts, you can use your head to use the best betting sites out there. And online casinos have made it so much easier. Some websites have even helped users to use PayPal, meaning the wait to withdraw the cash is not as long anymore. Here’s a breakdown of the best sites to use ( It’s worth a read.

But anyway, what will Daniel Levy do next? Will he make the dreams of most Spurs fans and bring MoPo? Or will he let Antonio Conte weave his magic and give the fans what they crave the most; a meaningful trophy.

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