Tottenham won their first Premier League game since mid-October on Sunday evening as new boss Antonio Conte secured lift-off at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.
The 2-1 victory over Leeds United represented the first top-flight victory under former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte since he was announced as Nuno Espirito Santo’s replacement before the international break.
Daniel James had given Marcelo Bielsa’s men the lead but Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg ended Spurs’ six-hour wait for a Premier League goal, with Sergio Reguilon then completing the turnaround with his first goal for the club.
Whilst the three points were also significant for both Conte and Reguilon, it also ended what was a poor run of form for the North London outfit.
“Conte has only been here a few weeks and has only really had one week with his full squad.
“However, people are loving the passion and energy the Italian is bringing to North London and given what he has won in the game, when he talks, you tend to listen.
“So I would say his reign has started just about as well as it possibly could have done.
“What I want is for him to be able to line the team up and play as they did in the second half yesterday but for the full 90.
“That isn’t a change but a development in fitness and it will come with time. I suspect we will have to endure some rough periods in matches before the players get their fitness back up to the necessary levels but I can’t wait until we reach that point.”
After an extended international break, it was never going to be easy for Antonio Conte to get his side playing in a fluid, cohesive manner.
Nearly all of his key players were away with their respective countries, posing numerous challenges for Tottenham’s new boss.
But that wouldn’t have excused an extremely disappointing first half for the home side, who failed to register a shot on target in the opening 45 minutes, with some supporters venting their frustration as the players went in at the break.
“We have only been working under the new manager for three weeks and two weeks of that was without the international players,” says Seb.
“I’m not sure exactly why people expect things to click immediately, especially considering the change of formation, but everyone has a right to boo if they want to.
“I was of the opinion that Spurs sat back and looked to soak up pressure in the first half by design, which Conte seemed to confirm in his post-match comments.
“Therefore, I would look at the second half as a blueprint of what he eventually wants to be able to do across a full 90 and that is very exciting.”
Sunday’s win sees Spurs climb three places in the league to seventh position, four points off West Ham in fourth place.
And they are about to embark on a run of fixtures against sides who are struggling in the table with Burnley, Brentford, Norwich and Brighton up next.
It’s a perfect run of fixtures at the perfect time for Conte according to Seb, who believes that Tottenham’s priority is to get as many of their players as fit as possible over the coming weeks.
“It’s all about building fitness at the moment, which could see repeats of the Leeds game where Spurs cannot play at full pelt for 90 minutes,” he explains.
“Lower league teams and struggling teams are better to play against when you can only play 45 minutes at full blast.
“Could Spurs sit back and soak up pressure against Burnley for one half then take the game to them in the second?
“It is a lot more likely to beat Burnley in that manner than it would be Manchester City.
“Against a top, top side, you would be blown away in the first half before you even got a chance to go up a gear in the second.”
Conte has spent hours at the Spurs training ground since his appointment three weeks ago as part of his attempt to improve “every aspect of his players”.
As a result, the Tottenham squad has had to get used to long training sessions and meetings and, after a demanding few weeks, Conte gave the players a day off as a reward for beating Leeds on Sunday.
The Italian has also given himself a day to recover before getting back to work on Tuesday ahead of Thursday’s Europa Conference League trip to NS Mura in Slovenia as the North London side look to get their season back on track.
“Ultimately, my desires and expectations for this season have not changed despite Conte coming in and Nuno leaving,” reveals Seb.
“Sure, the last top-four spot is up for grabs for whoever can be the most consistent out of a number of teams, but a Champions League spot was always a stretch of an aim for Spurs this season.
“What I want is to see progress on the pitch, positive performances, a clear way of playing, high-effort, high-pressing and entertaining football.
“I want to come away from the match, no matter the result, and think ‘I can see where we are going with this,’ and after the second half against Leeds, I got that feeling and we got three points, so it was a great result.
“For the rest of the campaign, I just want to see growth and improvement. I want to be able to see the short and long term game-plan. I want to see all the players given chances.
“However, I also want to see the management being ruthless if players waste chances.
“The rebuild has to be cutthroat and if players do not put the effort in and keep up with Conte’s training and diet regimes, they will not play a part in the squad.
“This is a season of rebuilding and I want to see evidence of the first bricks being laid. If Spurs can hit the ground running and push for the top four, that would be incredible.
“In terms of what I expect, a top-six finish and either the Carabao Cup or the Europa Conference League would be amazing.”
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