Tottenham Hotspur

Spurs failing to back Antonio Conte would be the final straw for fans

By Sean Walsh
Conte is keen to talk transfers with the Tottenham board
Conte is keen to talk transfers with the Tottenham board / Craig Mercer/MB Media/GettyImages
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The relationship between Tottenham's higher-ups in the ENIC ownership era and the fans has almost never been rosy.

Sure, their arrival freed the club from the shackles of Alan Sugar, but Daniel Levy and co have had a roundabout way of demonstrating their lofty ambition.

Supporters have been rubbed the wrong way plenty in the last 20 years, though that could probably be said of every club and Spurs aren't unique in that aspect. But the events of the last half-decade or so have led to the latest round of disgruntlement.

After failing to sufficiently back Mauricio Pochettino, the Argentine burned out after the Champions League final and was sacked in November 2019. That part was at least understandable - things were no longer working and the board had to be proactive to stop the rut. It was their next decision that was unforgivable.

Levy proclaimed on Tottenham's Amazon Prime documentary that he hired Jose Mourinho as Pochettino's successor because he was one of the two best coaches in the global game. At the time that felt inaccurate, and at the end of the Portuguese's inevitably awful reign, it was a horrendous take that had aged like milk.

It was alarming that Levy had such a skewed view on the sport, that this was the man in charge of a football club. It didn't help that a day prior to Mourinho's sacking, Spurs announced their attention to join the universally unpopular European Super League.

After getting nearly every major off-field decision wrong since completing the move to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium (which itself was a drama), Levy relinquished some control to Fabio Paratici as the club's managing director of football.

Even among this good choice was a world of conflict - Spurs were desperately failing to appoint a successor to Mourinho, and Paratici's list of targets differed to that of his new club. After swinging and missing on several coaches, Nuno Espirito Santo was appointed as the compromise no one wanted.

That unhappy marriage lasted just four months and Paratici successfully managed to convince Antonio Conte - approached in the summer but still processing his sudden departure from Inter - to take the job.

To no one's surprise, one of the world's best coaches (this time not just in Levy's mind) has managed to turn Spurs' season around, with Conte winning five and drawing three of his first eight Premier League games and propelling them back into top-four contention. There's also half a chance that he'll end the club's 14-year trophy drought by the end of February.

But since arriving at Tottenham, Conte has stressed that the squad needs surgery if they're to truly compete.

90min understands that Spurs are still recovering financially after the pandemic but they do intend to back Conte in the January transfer window, though deals for top targets like Franck Kessie and Alessio Romagnoli will most likely be concluded in the summer instead.

Conte's trusting of Paratici is also a crucial factor, but nevertheless, this is an area which brought the Italian tactician's time with Chelsea and Inter to abrupt ends - would it shock you if Conte walked out of Spurs before the end of this season?

Tottenham Hotspur v Aston Villa - Premier League
Fans have ramped up protests against Spurs' ownership in the last couple of years / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

The good news for Spurs fans is Levy has put his money where his mouth is in recent transfer windows (even if the players themselves haven't yielded much on the pitch), but that lingering perception of his frugalness remains and is an understandable cause for concern.

And that's why Levy has the most to lose in this. One sentiment he actually nailed in that documentary is that he is merely a curator of a club that ultimately belongs to the people. The fans will just about survive a Conte fallout, but the chairman would not - the Italian's failure would be laid at the chairman's doorstep, and that would be a fatal blow to his tenure.


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