FIVE seasons ago, Spurs boasted the best attack and the meanest defence in the Premier League.
They chalked up their own record points haul, they won all of their last 14 league matches at the old White Hart Lane and they possessed the Golden Boot winner in Harry Kane.
Conte is a serial winner who has claimed five league titles in seven full seasons as a club boss — three with Juventus, one with Inter Milan last term and that 2016-17 triumph with Chelsea.
The Tottenham squad Conte inherits from Nuno ‘Dispirito’ Santo is a shadow of Pochettino’s peak side.
Its quality has been diluted and the players are shell-shocked after six months of mayhem.
Since late April, Spurs have sacked one manager, Jose Mourinho, six days before a cup final, then took 72 days to replace him with Nuno, who lasted just 78 days of the current season before he too was sacked.
In the meantime, Kane asked to leave the club and performance levels reached a decade-long low with a shocking no-show in September’s North London derby.
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That saw a bang-average but utterly-rampant Arsenal side 3-0 up in 34 minutes. Conte has strutted into a bombsite.
Yet the Italian — who is not shy of talking up his own achievements, though he has little to be shy about — will often tell you he cleared away the wreckage of a self-destructive ‘Mourinho season’ to reclaim Chelsea’s Premier League crown in 2017.
The new Tottenham boss takes charge for the first time tonight against Vitesse Arnhem in the Europa Conference League — a competition the club were embarrassed to enter but now face the even more embarrassing prospect of group-stage elimination from.
Conte’s work permit was not sorted in time for him to appear at a hurried pre-match Zoom call press conference yesterday.
Instead, his first interview was broadcast online, over a soundtrack of moody keyboard music.
And it included some impressive bragging about his feats in Italian football.
As the pianist tickled his ivories, Conte said: “I played for Juventus for 13 years, I won a lot, everything. And then had to come back and start as coach.
“For Juventus to win nine titles in a row means you have dominated — I started and then I stopped that cycle because in the last two years at Inter Milan we had the second-best attack and the best defence.
“The past is important and I’m proud of what I did at previous teams.
“For me, the new challenge is Tottenham. I want this to become an important part of my career as a manager.”
Conte’s appointment means Tottenham’s players can no longer hide behind a failing manager. Nuno, who was somewhere around 12th choice for the job during an embarrassing summer search and, like Mourinho before him, simply never fitted the club’s ethos.
Tottenham’s director of football Fabio Paratici — a friend of Conte’s who worked with him at Juventus — claimed that the current squad is good enough to win trophies and that he had not discussed potential January transfers with the new manager.
It was unconvincing stuff, just like captain Hugo Lloris accepting that players had to take their share of the blame for the demise of Mourinho and Nuno — don’t they all parrot that line?
Lloris did, though, concede that ‘Tottenham with Antonio Conte will bring even more expectation’.
The French World Cup-winning captain, 34, added: “Unfortunately it didn’t work like we wanted (under Nuno).
“Now it’s a new chapter and also we need to take under consideration that it’s never easy for a new manager to be brought in during the season.
“There is a lot of new information that we need to get into our minds about football, about team structure.
“There is also a new philosophy of work, but again, we need the commitment of everyone and the excitement of everyone.
“It’s a massive opportunity for us to work under this kind of manager but when you have the opportunity, you have to take it and give your best.
“All together, step by step, we’re going to try to reach the level that has to be ours.
“And hopefully we are going to have better days ahead of us.”
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