The 12 seconds that proved Tottenham have already adapted to Antonio Conte’s philosophy


Antonio Conte has been head coach at Tottenham Hotspur for less than a week yet already, the Italian is beginning to stamp his mark on his new group of players.

The best and most refined coaches in the world have signature goals attached to their tactics and playing style, with a customary Pep Guardiola goal likely to involve a long possession sequence followed by a tap-in from close range.

A standard goal scored by a Jurgen Klopp team tends to stem from a transition or a counter-pressing moment, whereas a goal scored by a Diego Simeone outfit usually originates from a set-piece or counter-attack based on past years.

Conte‘s approach is very flexible, but he too has set principles associated with his tactics and general style of play, with three-at-the-back often favoured by the 52-year-old.

3-4-3 and 3-5-2 are his preferred variations, with the former adopted in his first competitive match in charge of Spurs against Vitesse on Thursday night.

Conte‘s men won the contest by three goals to two, but one of the goals in particular effectively summed up what Spurs supporters can expect from their team under the Italian coach moving forward.

The second goal of the contest was scored by Lucas Moura, but it started with three central defenders using the ball at the edge of their own defensive third.

Eric Dier was deployed in the middle of Conte’s back three despite Cristian Romero’s experience in the role while at Atalanta, with the English defender favoured due to his ball-playing ability. Conte’s wing-backs were Sergio Reguilon and Emerson Royal, with both occupying high and wide positions in order to stretch the pitch from side to side.



Spurs showcased plenty of Antonio Conte's hallmarks to score their second of the night against Vitesse on Thursday
Spurs showcased plenty of Antonio Conte’s hallmarks to score their second of the night against Vitesse on Thursday

As a result of their positioning, Spurs were able to use the spaces in the middle of the pitch to their advantage, with Dier passing to Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg who immediately passed forward to Moura.

The Brazilian flicked the ball to Harry Kane – who had dropped to hold up the ball – using his first touch, before darting in behind and receiving a return pass from Kane.

Moura found the net by slotting past the goalkeeper in a one-on-one situation, but the make-up of the move epitomised what Spurs will be working towards under Conte.

Spurs showed plenty of Conte’s hallmarks to score the goal in question: Dier as a quarterback in the middle of a back three, Emerson and Reguilon as highly advanced wing-backs, Kane dropping to assist with build-up, and players such as Moura making penetrative runs.

It is early days but despite his limited time on the training field, Conte is showing evidence that the very best coaches around are able to swiftly imprint their identity on a group of players.

The prospect of Spurs’ level after six months to a year of Conte’s tenure is mouth-watering.





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