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Antonio Conte named new Tottenham boss; how could Spurs line up?

Rebecca Lowe, Tim Howard and Robbie Mustoe try to diagnose the root cause of Tottenham's continued malaise and how much of the blame lies at the feet of Daniel Levy, Harry Kane and Nuno Espirito Santo.

Antonio Conte has been named as the new manager of Tottenham Hotspur, as the Italian coach returns to the Premier League.

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Conte has signed an 18-month contract until the summer of 2023 and Spurs said there is an ‘option to extend’ the deal. Conte also revealed that he wasn’t ready to take charge in the summer when Spurs first approached him but that the north London club had been very keen for him to replace the now departed Nuno Espirito Santo.

After winning the Premier League during his two-season spell with Chelsea from 2016-18, then leading Inter Milan to the Serie A title in his most recent job, Conte is a serial winner and is delighted to be returning to England.

“I am extremely happy to return to coaching, and to do so at a Premier League club that has the ambition to be a protagonist again,” Conte said. “Tottenham Hotspur has state-of-the-art facilities and one of the best stadiums in the world. I can’t wait to start working to convey to the team and the fans the passion, mentality and determination that have always distinguished me, as a player and as a coach.”

“Last summer our union did not happen because the end of my relationship with Inter was still too recent and emotionally too involved with the end of the season, so I felt that it wasn’t yet the right time to return to coaching. But the contagious enthusiasm and determination of Daniel Levy in wanting to entrust me with this task had already hit the mark. Now that the opportunity has returned, I have chosen to take it with great conviction.”

Spurs’ managing director, Fabio Paratici, is delighted to bring Conte to Tottenham after the duo worked together with great success at Juventus:

“We are delighted to welcome Antonio to the Club. His track record speaks for itself, with vast experience and trophies in both Italy and England. I know first-hand the qualities Antonio can bring to us, having worked with him at Juventus, and look forward to seeing his work with our talented group of players.”

What tactics could the Italian coach use?

There’s no doubting that Tottenham have some quality players in their squad but since Mauricio Pochettino left both Jose Mourinho and Nuno Espirito Santo have struggled to find the right balance.

Conte will have his work cut out to turn Tottenham in to genuine top four contenders this season, but it’s possible. The main thing he will deliver is a strict approach and defensive solidity.

He will also ask players to be flexible tactically and his wide players and three center backs are extremely important. On paper, Conte can tweak a few things which should make Tottenham a much better team right away.

Here’s a look at how Spurs could line up under Antonio Conte, as we all know the Italian coach prefers a 3-5-2 system.

Potential lineup under Antonio Conte (3-5-2)

----- Lloris -----

---- Romero ---- Sanchez ---- Dier ----

--- Doherty --- Hojbjerg --- Winks --- Ndombele --- Reguilon ---

---- Son ---- Kane ----

Analysis of what Spurs could become under Conte, and what he must sort out

First up, he will go with three at the back and he will use experience. That is why Romero, Sanchez and Dier get the nod here. However, the center back area is where Spurs need to strengthen most and Conte will likely push to bring in at least two new central defenders in January. Minimum.

Out wide, it is clear that Conte relies heavily on his wing backs and that is a role Matt Doherty is used to. Yes, his career at Spurs has never got going, but he seems like a Conte kind of player. On the other flank Reguilon is much more of a wing-back than a left back, so this suits him too. Conte may also turn to Steven Bergwijn, Lucas Moura or Ryan Sessegnon as wing backs as he prefers to play more attack minded players (see: Moses, Victor and Young, Ashley) in the wing-back roles so they can support the forwards.

In midfield, Hojbjerg and Skipp have been okay, albeit negative with their passing, so that is why Harry Winks could be key with his slightly more progressive approach and ability on the ball. Winks and Hojbjerg can provide a solid base -- similar to Kante and Matic holding the fort for Conte at Chelsea -- and allow Ndombele and other more creative attacking midfielders to roam free.

Up top, this is where it gets interesting. In theory it will be Kane as the lone front man (just like Diego Costa and Romelu Lukaku in Conte’s former teams) and then Son buzzing around underneath him just like Eden Hazard did for Chelsea playing off Costa. But this formation can easily change to a 3-4-2-1 when needed as one of Ndombele/Moura/Bergwijn and Son could play under Kane. Whatever happens, the key for Conte will be rejuvenating Harry Kane.

Conte will no doubt want to add his own players in January, and beyond, but this is a decent Tottenham squad. It needs to be tweaked and Conte needs to reignite the hunger. Luckily he’s very good at doing both of those things.

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