Ben Davies reveals how Antonio Conte is repeating Mauricio Pochettino trick at Tottenham

Ben Davies has revealed how his time under Jose Mourinho and Mauricio Pochettino compares with current Tottenham boss, Antonio Conte.

Conte has been in north London for a month now and has already begun making changes to his new side, both on and off the pitch.

The Italian has been in charge of three league games, winning two and drawing one, leaving the Lilywhites sixth in the league, just two points off the top four.

The ex-Chelsea boss immediately implemented his favoured 3-4-3 formation, which has left Davies with a space at the left of the back three.

Video Loading

Video Unavailable

The Welsh international has made 13 appearances so far this season and after not being Nuno Espirito Santo’s first-choice left-back, he has quickly become one of the first choices in Conte’s starting XI’s.

The defender commented on the intense training sessions under the new Spurs manager and why it has been such a positive.

“We want to be as competitive as we can and physicality is definitely an area where we need to improve,” Davies said in an interview with The Athletic. “Our stats weren’t great at the start of the season. Now there’s a new boss who’s really got us running, really got us working. We’re intense and we feel much better for it.

“It was one of his main messages when he came in. We knew we needed to improve and his attitude is we have to be the best in the aspects that we can control, and physicality is definitely something we can control.”

As Davies mentioned, Tottenham had a slow start to the season and their fitness was one of the worst in the league but this has already improved and was shown when they outrun Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds side, who are known for their fitness on the pitch.

“We’re covering a much greater distance in training, and there are a number of markers the sports scientists look for — be it high intensity, running, sprint distance, getting your heart rate above 85 per cent.

“All these numbers are what you need to do on the training pitch to improve and be in tip-top shape when it comes to match day, and the training is set up for us to reach those numbers.”

This aspect of fitness is something which Davies missed out on just after the arrival of Conte, due to his international duty with Wales but is now “enjoying the hard work”.

When Pochettino was in charge of the Lilywhites, having that intensity and fitness on the pitch was a key aspect of the Argentine’s game and the defender highlighted that there are some similarities between the two managers.

“It’s obviously different ways of going about it, but that demand of being intense — that for 90 minutes we’re going to try and run all over the opposition is definitely there,” Davies said.

“It’s intense training every day, it’s short, sharp movements. All the details are covered, whether it’s body position, foot movement, sprinting techniques.

“He’s meticulous, a real worker on the details and I like that. I want to learn from the best and having someone that can make the game as clear as possible for you, it’s a dream.

“The work we do in the week makes that pretty easy when you get out onto the pitch. Every detail — and I mean every detail — is covered.”

However, he also noted a slight difference between the Italian and current Pari St Germain manager.

“We didn’t have long sessions where Pochettino would say, ‘I want this here, this here, this here’, but the training and the work we did was actually all done for us to be in the right place,” the defender explained. “It’s tactics but without calling it tactics. Whereas the sessions now, we do a lot of 11 v 11 shape. A lot of simulations of what we’d expect to see.”

Ben Davies has featured in every game under Antonio Conte so far.
Ben Davies has featured in every game under Antonio Conte so far.

After Pochettino’s era at Spurs, it was Mourinho who replaced the Argentine but after less than two years and just days before the League Cup final, the Portuguese head coach was relieved of his duties.

“I had nothing but respect for him and I felt like we had a really good relationship,” Davies said, reflecting on his time under Mourinho.

“Football can be a game of small margins and the number of times it felt like we were ahead and then we conceded in the 80th minute or later was tough.

“I can understand the frustrations perhaps of the football that was being played, that it was defensive. But at the same time, I can understand that approach and I think it’s worked in the past for many managers.”

Conte has already been late to media press conferences due to training running late, his coaching staff leading intense warm downs after matches and a number of players have spoken about the work that is being done in training.

This same intensity was shown under Pochettino, but Davies highlighted that this was different to the plan of action that Mourinho would take.

“It was probably a lot more low intensity during the week, with the idea to save your energy for the game,” he admitted.

Another criticism of the Tottenham team in recent times, is a lack of identity that fans feel their team has on the football pitch.

Especially under Espirito Santo, it was hard to see the exact plan on the field and what the aims and ambitions were for the north London club.

However, that has already shown glimpses of changing after just a month under Conte, with the ambition that he is known to have and expressed, yet another similarity Davies linked to Pochettino.

“Even at the start when results weren’t great you could see that we were building something and soon enough it clicked and we had an identity,” the Welshman said.

“We had a clear way of playing; an intensity about us that was a pleasure to play in.

“You were going into games really not even thinking about the opposition because you felt you were going to win. It was a real pleasure and I look back on it with a lot of fondness.”

Davies has featured in all of Conte’s fixtures at Tottenham so far, often playing alongside Eric Dier and Cristian Romero in a back line, until the latter’s injury.

It is a position that is familiar for the Welshman, as it is often his role when he goes on international duty.

His regular game time hasn’t been something he has been used to in recent times at Spurs but he has slotted into the role well and has helped with some solid defensive work, as well as managing to get forward to contribute to the attacking force.

Source link