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Antonio Conte warns his Tottenham for his first league game in charge of the club


‘Talent means trouble’ was an old West End showbiz mantra and there’s no doubt that Tottenham managed to get their hands on A-list talent with Antonio Conte. They may also have gotten themselves into a fair amount of trouble.

But in terms of personality power, they have deployed a winner and a phenomenon. Conte and Nuno Espirito Santo are chalk and cheese, one outgoing, the other a non-demonstrative, quiet coach. Conte split his trousers and jumped into the fans to celebrate his management’s first goal at Stamford Bridge. In modern times, fans enjoy such leadership.

“His words attack you,” Andrea Pirlo said of his team talks at Juventus. He meant it in a good way, but the same phrase could be used for those on the wrong side of a Conte explosion.

Antonio Conte will take charge of his first league game at Tottenham on Sunday

He’s never rude, he doesn’t swear when he’s angry, but he’s furious when he suspects a staff member doesn’t share the same obsession with winning and shows no solace in defeat.

Conte can get furious about almost anything. But always with the aim of setting high standards. He is much more intense than Jose Mourinho, say players who have worked with both.

Conte will give you everything, but he expects everything in return. “Every player has to think, ‘I wake up at the beginning of the day to improve myself,’ says Conte. “The player must do this from early in the morning until bedtime.

“It’s a shame when you see a good player who doesn’t use 100 percent of his capacity.”

Conte has already proven himself in the Premier League after winning the title with Chelsea

Conte has already proven himself in the Premier League after winning the title with Chelsea

Spurs fans have seen plenty of that lately. Conte has made it clear that this takes time. “I know this club hasn’t won in years, but it doesn’t happen after one, two, three days or one or two months,” he said last week.

And the hard work, it seems, has already begun. Conte’s pre-match press conference was scheduled for Friday at 1:30 p.m. By two o’clock Spurs had sent an email informing waiting journalists that the players were still training. Conte sat down in front of the cameras at 2:32 p.m.

Yet he also has charm in abundance. Comfortable and open with the media, he made it a point to apologize for his lateness before anyone could ask a question.

Conte made a deep impression on the Chelsea staff at Stamford Bridge, getting to know names and meeting people. He attended the staff Christmas party and spent two hours there, organizing a pre-season barbecue for team and families and a family day out at the Flip Out trampoline park in Wandsworth.

The problem for Daniel Levy is that he is the antithesis of a low-maintenance manager as evidenced by his numerous breakups with clubs. Andrea Agnelli has reportedly still not forgiven him for leaving Juventus when no transfer money was made available after he won the club three league titles. Conte complained that he was asked to dine at a €100 per head restaurant with €10 in his pocket. His end at Chelsea was bitter and ended in an employment court.

Tottenham's director Fabio Paratic was instrumental in luring Conte to the club

Tottenham’s director Fabio Paratic was instrumental in luring Conte to the club

But those who work with him keep coming back for more, as does Fabio Paratici, the key link in his current deal. Paratici was general manager at Juve and it seems unlikely that Levy alone would have persuaded Conte to make this leap, as the former Italian boss had spurned the Spurs in the summer after glancing at the transfer budget and Harry Kane’s situation .

Even his mentor and patron, Giorgio Perinetti, the man Conte thanks for opening his path to coaching, has had his differences. Perinetti, now sporting director at Siena, persuaded Bari to hire Conte after the coach failed in his first job at Arezzo. He spent two seasons with Bari, taking them from relegation fodder to Serie B champions. But when he reached Serie A, he walked away.

“He asked us to have the signings and the team ready for the season,” said Perinetti. “The board said, ‘No, we’ll give you a good team, but we’ll need all summer for that.’ For this reason, he decided to [go].’

Perinetti had worked for Juventus when Conte played there. He wasn’t the best player, but he was the most important in the dressing room. “Antonio was captain and I understood that he was the leader of the club,” Perinetti recalled. “He played with players like Zinedine Zidane, Edgar Davids and Didier Deschamps. But the midfield leader was Antonio Conte. That’s why I always thought he could become a coach.’

Harry Kane praised Antonio Conte's appointment as 'ambitious' earlier this week

Harry Kane praised Antonio Conte’s appointment as ‘ambitious’ earlier this week

Harry Kane will no doubt love the intensity. He has already praised the appointment as a sign of ‘great ambition’. The English captain is a demanding trainer. In Conte, he may well find a soul mate.

Many players fall out with him. Willian edited Conte’s face from a photo of Chelsea celebrating the 2018 FA Cup victory. In the immediate aftermath of the 2017 title win, Conte texted the entire team to say, “Well done, but work hard over the summer and don’t come back overweight.” Diego Costa jokingly returned a beer and LOL emoji, to which Conte famously replied, “Hi Diego, I hope you’re doing well. Thank you for the season we spent together. Good luck for next year, but you’re not in my plan.’

Still, players like Victor Moses were transformed under Conte, who saw him as an essential link in playing patterns on the fullback. He saw his potential, gave him responsibility, and Moses prospered.

Conte is confident he will improve on players like Dele Alli, who hasn't impressed in a while

Conte is confident he will improve on players like Dele Alli, who hasn’t impressed in a while

Conte has a habit of getting the best out of players that other managers have given up. Once one of the most exciting young English players of his generation, Dele Alli has been lost under Mourinho and Nuno. Maybe Tanguy Ndombele has finally found a manager to make him shine.

“I think my best as a coach is to improve players,” said Conte. ‘I think I do [this] very good. It is important that the player has to want to improve, otherwise it will be very difficult for me and my staff to do it.

“At Tottenham it will be my job to improve every player. If I do it, it means the team will go to a different level than it is now.”


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