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Tottenham Hotspur: 5 things Antonio Conte needs to fix

Tottenham Hotspur
(Image credit: Getty)

In August, Nuno Espirito Santo won the Manager of the Month award in the Premier League after three wins and three clean sheets. By November 1, Tottenham Hotspur had sacked him, with Antonio Conte replacing him a day later.

That's the life of a Premier League manager, of course, but it's not uncommon at Tottenham. Juande Ramos, their last trophy-winning boss, was relieved of duties a day before his year-long anniversary. Mauricio Pochettino, Tim Sherwood, even Jose Mourinho - none of them were safe from the scythe. 

NEWS Nuno Espirito Santo sacked by Spurs - where did it all go wrong?

Conte has a huge job repairing this Tottenham team. With dysfunction reigning, there are plenty of places to begin, too...

1. Get Harry Kane back on board

Harry Kane, the subject of Tottenham chants about him being "one of their own", was booed at the weekend by his own fans. That's the state that the club are in right now.

The England captain has had a torrid few months in a Spurs shirt. After failing to find an exit in the summer following his "gentleman's agreement" with Daniel Levy, the striker has bagged just once in 10 games this season, looking a shadow his best self and looking lethargic.

This team revolves around Kane. He is the one indisputable superstar of the side and getting him back up to speed is essential if Spurs are going to start competing. It's not just about his goals but his assists and Conte will need to get him believing in the project once more. 

If not, Daniel Levy might have to consider selling him. The price that he commands was almost too much to turn down in the summer - it definitely would be if his poor form continues. 

2. Start creating chances

Son Heung-min celebrates his goal with teammates

Only Newcastle United and Norwich City have a lower xG than Tottenham this season. Nuno's football has been slow, laborious and focussed on possession but creativity has been absent. 

Tottenham need to start creating more - and it's not just a burden that falls on Kane. Since Christian Eriksen departed, the club haven't had a midfielder who can chip in with consistent assists and someone needs to step up and deliver.

Kane and Son have proven themselves to be two of the best attackers in the world. It's imperative to give them ammunition if Spurs want to stop this rot. Which actually leads us onto...

3. Implement a better press

Nuno's time at Tottenham has been wretched on the ball - but even more so off. The signs should have been there from his Wolves team, too, who looked horrendous when trying to press in a 4-4-2 last season. 

A press is not just defensive, either. Teams that have a good counterpress will pen sides in and chances will be creative simply from winning the ball back higher up the pitch. Compare how Tottenham played against Chelsea - when their narrow press in the first half forced Thomas Tuchel into a change at half-time - against how Manchester United had more time and space on the ball at the weekend. 

Part of it is down to the personnel on the field not running enough out of possession - but a lot of is down to the coaching. Tottenham ran further than anyone else under Pochettino and those stats dropped significantly under the more old-school Mourinho. 

Spurs have the players to press in a settled 4-4-2 shape, regardless of the shape they attack in. Getting the team to be cleverer out of possession is the first step to improving them both in defence and attack. 

4. Settle on a solid midfield

Tottenham Hotspur's Dele Alli and Harry Kane embrace | Tottenham v Chelsea live stream

(Image credit: PA)

The Tottenham midfield has been in flux ever since Mousa Dembele departed the club in 2019. Moussa Sissoko held it together during the club's Champions League run that year, but Giovanni Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele have been big-money flops who have massively underwhelmed.

Against Arsenal, Tottenham's midfield flaws were horrendously exposed. Hojbjerg sat, with Ndombele and Dele Alli moving forward to win second balls, leaving their biggest rivals to stroll through the pitch in transition. The grit that Spurs had in the centre of the park under Pochettino has all but evaporated - and that needs to change. 

Hojbjerg has been used as a destroyer under Mourinho but Euro 2020 showed him as much more creative than he's given credit for. With Lo Celso, Winks and Ndombele there are tempo-setters in this squad, while Deli Alli and Oliver Skipp are options too. Deciding upon a definitive no.6, no.8 and no.10 is key going forward.

5. Excite the fans once more

Daniel Levy mentioned the importance of playing the Tottenham way in the summer. That's been lost over the last couple of decades, though - let alone the last couple of managers. 

Possession-based football would be nice to see for a lot of fans but right now, that's a pipedream looking at some of the players in the squad. That's lucky for Conte, who isn't a possession-heavy manager, too: Tottenham are easy to keep the ball against - but when they get the ball, they could be a lot better in transition. 

Son Heung-min is one of the best counter-attackers in the Premier League; it's only just over a year ago since he and Kane tore Southampton apart at St. Mary's, remember, with a clinic in how to make the most of space. More of that is needed. Harder running, more security in possession and giving chances to youngsters are all signs to a fanbase that the club is going in the right direction.

Good football comes in many forms but ultimately, no one really expects their team to become Manchester City overnight. They just want to feel like their players care and can raise the tempo every now and then. There's not much of that at Tottenham right now - and that needs to change.

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