AAfter the ultimate whistle, after the booing and brawling had backed, as Arsenal’s giddy gamers jigged and danced their approach over to their supporters within the nook, Yves Bissouma stood alone within the Tottenham half watching them. Watching with longing, and envy, and maybe even a sure curiosity. Pleasure? Pleasure? Celebration? What are these unusual new issues?
By that stage, after all, Bissouma’s teammates had lengthy since retired to the heat of the dressing room. They didn’t need to be there any longer, and nor did the Tottenham followers who have been already slogging down the Excessive Highway looking for liquid comfort. Antonio Conte, as he by no means tires of telling us, does nonetheless need to be right here. Ideally. Offering a number of essential circumstances are met. It may well hardly be his fault, in any case, that the membership retains disappointing him like this.
Conte is without doubt one of the world’s nice coaches. No quibbles there. However some coaches and golf equipment are merely the incorrect match for one another. Tottenham have now performed six video games towards the remainder of the massive seven and misplaced each one, bar the late draw at Chelsea. What’s the goal of Conte’s nous and expertise if to not navigate them by way of the most important video games? What number of gamers have improved underneath him, developed, discovered new ranges? In case you have been the sporting director at an elite European membership seeking to raid Tottenham for his or her greatest younger expertise, who would you have a look at to construct a crew round for the subsequent 5 years?
They go away Kulusevski, definitely. Rodrigo Bentancur and Cristian Romero, possibly. Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, health allowing. The remainder you’ll in all probability discard. Bissouma, signed to such fanfare in the summertime, has retreated into himself. The identical for Ryan Sessegnon. Djed Spence might flip right into a participant, however we’re not discovering out any time quickly. Pape Sarr has promised, however throwing a debutant right into a two-on-four midfield ambush in a recreation of this measurement was an act of pure dereliction, and one with predictable penalties.
None of that is actually the difficulty, although. As Tottenham forlornly tried to really feel their approach right into a recreation that had began with out them, the stench of gilded dysfunction poured out of each orifice. Heavy touches. Passes straight out of play. Passes to static gamers who had no room to maneuver. A genuinely unbelievable share of Tottenham assaults ended up with the ball at Hugo Lloris’s toes, as in the event that they have been making an attempt to attain the proper crew purpose in reverse. At one level Pierre-Emile Højbjerg tried a bit of diagonal dink to Kulusevski and ended up not merely placing it out of play, however sending it midway to Hornsey. There’s a worry right here, a fatalism, sod’s regulation in soccer membership kind. What if that go will get lower out? What if I lose possession? What if Arsenal counter? Do not make a mistake. DON’T MAKE A MISTAKE.
Keep in mind Arsenal’s first recreation again after the World Cup? West Ham at house. Everybody’s questioning whether or not they nonetheless have it. Whether or not the break will kill their stream. They go to purpose down. And the noise that rises round them is a godly factor: a howl of defiance and conviction, a storm to scream down the storm. The gamers nonetheless keep in mind it fondly. Martin Ødegaard talked about it final week. It was their fortifying second.
Right here Tottenham went to purpose down. nothing. Simply the hiss of leaking air, a numbness, a dumbness. What if Arsenal win the league? What if Kane leaves? What is that this factor we have paid to look at? Our payments preserve rising, nothing works, final 12 months’s Golden Boot winner has forgotten easy methods to lure a soccer and it has been raining for about 4 months. Greatest to take a seat quietly and anticipate this to go, which it is not going to.
There are numerous issues right here that aren’t Conte’s fault, however one essential factor that’s. Conte will not be liable for the years of dysfunction that preceded him, Son’s mystifying decline, the uneven squad he inherited. It’s not Conte’s fault that Arsenal are pretty much as good as they’re, their motion so exact, excessive order within the garments of maximum chaos, Ødegaard a person enjoying in his personal private metaverse, Bukayo Saka a winger who merely refuses to let you have got the ball.
However when a coach’s dedication to the membership feels so conditional, why ought to anyone else sweat and bleed for it? Conte will not be wedded to this challenge as Pep Guardiola is to Manchester Metropolis or Jürgen Klopp to Liverpool. He doesn’t empathize with Tottenham as Mikel Arteta does with Arsenal or Gareth Ainsworth with Wycombe. This can be a job, and a strictly limited-term job at that, a job to maintain him going till one thing higher comes alongside. His precedence, career-wise, is just to not mess up. Grasp that, and the whole lot you see on the pitch makes a bit of extra sense.
The place we go from right here is anybody’s guess. The Conte interregnum ought to not less than finish Daniel Levy’s masochistic obsession with managers who imagine the membership is beneath them. A membership of Tottenham’s measurement shouldn’t be making an attempt to rent the final nice coach however the subsequent, the visionary who can choose by way of this shambles piece by piece, preserve what works and sweep away what doesn’t. On the very least, it ought to discover somebody who actually, unconditionally desires to be there. Why, certainly, ought to any membership accept something much less?