Conte already making his mark at Tottenham - By: David Billington | Dailytrust

Conte already making his mark at Tottenham

Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte

Eden Hazard used to joke that he was lucky to be a winger because at Chelsea he only had the manager Antonio Conte shouting in his ear for half the match! And so it proved at Conte’s first Tottenham game with him in charge rushing up and down the technical area and shouting instructions for every attack and defence. At the end of the game six substitute players came onto the pitch and trained hard for 15 minutes with elastic bands around their middles which they pulled against. It is typical Conte. There is nowhere for any Spur’s player to hide with him in charge. He said to us after the game, “You can teach players on the tactical aspect, you can improve players on the physical aspect but the heart, the passion, the will, you either have or not. My players showed me that we are in a good position for me to start work. We have a lot of room for improvement, a lot of space in different situations, tactically and physically, also the mentality. Today I have seen the will to pay attention to details.” Conte has only just arrived but already the Tottenham players are experiencing his tough training routines, repeated drills, focus on positioning and setting up to be dangerous in counter-attacks. One thing I did pick up was Conte’s plan to build the centre around Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg who roams menacingly, protecting the back three in the new 3-4-2-1 formation. An interesting fact is that Tottenham did not concede a goal for the first time since August and their run rate was raised enormously…under Nuno Espirito Santo it was all laid back but under Conte everything is ferocious! I will keep a close eye on events at White Hart Lane and should be bringing you some very enjoyable stories from behind the scenes featuring one of the most charismatic characters in football.

Aston Villa confirm Gerrard to take over

Villa tell me they have agreed terms with their managerial target ex-Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard who guided Scottish club Rangers to their first Scottish Premier League title for 10 years last season. Gerrard journeyed to London on Wednesday to meet with Villa Chief Executive Christian Purslow. My sources reveal that he has identified Chelsea midfielder Ross Barkley as his first signing. Gerrard is signed up to 2024 with a £2million buy out clause but that did not put off Villa’s owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens who have deep pockets. Chelsea are currently deciding whether to sell Barkley or sign him up on a new improved deal. Burnley, Leeds and Newcastle have also registered an interest in signing him.

 Howe and Tindall get top marks

There is no doubt that Newcastle have employed a very talented manager in Eddie Howe but no one doubts that he has taken on a very difficult challenge to keep the Black & Whites in the Premier League. I have learned this week that caretaker boss Graeme Jones who stepped in after Steve Bruce’s sacking, will also be kept on in a training role. At Bournemouth, Howe’s previous club, he worked alongside Jason Tindall as his assistant and he also joins Howe. Jones said this week, “When I worked with Jason at Bournemouth I got an inside view of their method. It is impressive and elite.” He commented on Howe and Tindall’s style, “High tempo, attacking football with momentum. They pay particular attention to off-the-ball play and say any team is only as good as they defend. Training sessions are innovative, different to other clubs, stimulating and detailed.” Howe impressed the Newcastle recruiting team during his interview by unveiling a presentation which included details of how he will improve team organisation, fitness levels and personal skills to retain possession of the ball. 

Top managers being discussed for Solskjaer’s job

The old saying goes that to lose one thing is unfortunate and to lose two things is a coincidence. However, to lose three is careless and to lose four is unthinkable!That is the situation the Premier League finds itself in this morning. In seven days the league lost three managers…Nuno Espirito Santo at Tottenham, Daniel Farke at Norwich and Dean Smith at Aston Villa. Ole Gunner Solskjaer is hanging on by a thread at Manchester United and although the directors of the club have stated publicly that he still has their support, the pressure to make him casualty number four is intense. One of the main reasons Solskjaer is still in his job is because the Glazer brothers cannot currently find a suitable replacement. Antonio Conte was high on their list but several board room directors rejected him because he is often difficult to deal with. After visiting Manchester this week I have listed for you the names at the top of their list: Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers is favoured by several directors and he is also the lead contender with bookmakers. Two and half years at Leicester have brought great respectability but little in terms of silverware and many think a move to United would enhance his career. Manchester City think Rodgers is the ideal replacement for Pep Guardiola when he decides to go and that will always be in the back of Brendan’s mind. Mauricio Pochettino is doing well at PSG however he is not completely happy and would welcome a return to the Premier League. Zinedine Zidan is second favourite with bookmakers and United’s directors have discussed him however the high pressure of the Premier League is putting him off. Ralf Rangnick has been mentioned but he is currently Head of Sporting Development at Lokomotive Moscow and a Director of Football would be more suitable for his talents. Watford are the next opponents for United and Claudio Ranieri’s Hornets are working overtime to increase Solskjaer’s misery.

Hudson-Odoi made right decision to stay at Chelsea

Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel has revealed that following talks with his management during the summer the club decided not to let Callum Hudson-Odoi leave in the transfer window. He was linked with a loan away from the club after dropping down the pecking order. An injury to Timo Werner last month gave Callum his chance and he seized it, performing impressively and he has now enjoyed a run of first team games. Tuchel said, “It wasn’t that we wanted him to leave and we are pleased that he decided to stay. He asked me about a loan and I told him that I did not want that. I played him as a wing-back which was a little unfair but he had to take this for the team and he did – he was always positive. Callum is an important player for us going forward.”

Moyes has West Ham fans singing

West Ham are riding high after years of suffering failure and sit above Liverpool, holding third place in the league. Many of the Hammer’s players believe they can go all the way this season. Manager David Moyes is more cautious and said this week that keeping a top four place, which automatically qualifies them for the Champions League, is his main focus. Only three points behind leaders Chelsea and qualification to the knockout stage of the Europa League, they also have a Carabao Cup match coming up. West Ham have a huge player in Declan Rice and ex-Chelsea captain John Terry described him this week as the best in his position in the world.” Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky was in London this week to close a deal which gives him 27% of the club and he is paying £150million. Whereas Hammer’s fans used to leave matches early with their heads down, last weekend they stayed for about 15 minutes after the match singing “West Ham are massive, everywhere we go.” Moyes admits that success depends on keeping his players fit and regularly holds meetings with his medical staff and physios and has made them a crucial part of his set up.

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