Tottenham Hotspur

Antonio Conte saw the best and worst of Tottenham in first game in charge

Jamie Spencer
Antonio Conte had reasons to be pleased & concerned by Spurs' performance against Vitesse
Antonio Conte had reasons to be pleased & concerned by Spurs' performance against Vitesse / Julian Finney/GettyImages

Antonio Conte started life at Tottenham with a win in the Europa Conference League against Vitesse Arnhem - a side that had provided one of the final nails in Nuno Espirito Santo’s coffin.

But there were both reasons to be pleased with what he saw and indicators of the hard work that lies ahead of him and his staff to whip this squad into suitable shape.

Conte hasn’t had time this week to make his mark. The former Juventus, Chelsea and Inter boss was only hired on Tuesday and had only been introduced to the players and watched training as a spectator by the time he was given the official go-ahead to take charge on Thursday.

He therefore didn’t really change the personnel, picking 10 of the 11 players that had started Nuno’s final game at the weekend, a 3-0 sorry defeat to a struggling Manchester United. But he immediately put his trademark 3-4-3 system in place and that will be a crucial part of any future success.

There is no doubting the attacking quality in the Spurs squad and Conte will be delighted that he can work with players as good as Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura.

All three attackers were involved as Spurs raced into a 3-0 lead within the first half hour. There is also promise in the wing-back positions - such crucial roles in any Conte team - with Sergio Reguilon and Emerson Royal getting forward on the left and right respectively.

But where Conte will have to get to work fast is on the defensive side of the ball. He is known for his intense, physically demanding style of play that requires constant pressing and running. That was lacking from Spurs, particularly after they went 3-0 up, which was what allowed Vitesse to fight their way back into the game relatively easily before the first half was over.

At 3-2, the visitors looked confident and either side could have scored the next goal at that stage – but for a save from Hugo Lloris early in the second half, it very well could have been 3-3.

Conte will also have to polish the rough edges that persist, such as Cristian Romero’s propensity for a reckless challenge. The Argentine was sent off after collecting a yellow card in either half, putting considerable pressure on his teammates until Vitesse had a player of their own sent off. It will take careful coaching to rein that in and coax out the quality defender that exists inside him.

Spurs made it unnecessarily hard for themselves, but a win is a win and now Conte will have a much clearer picture of how to approach his latest project.

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