It’s pretty obvious that a team has a habit, even a reputation or history, of being bullshit when its very name is used as a definition. “Spursinees” has been a term that has been thrown around since the start of the Premier League, which makes it clear what everyone thinks of Tottenham. No matter how beautiful things appear on the surface, no matter what they are just on the cusp, something will happen and it will almost certainly be their doing. Nobody blows their toes like the Spurs. This is a team that can lose a place in the Champions League on the last day of a season when the entire team he is literally shitting himself. Or so our relationship with perhaps the brightest managers have ever had. Or he doesn’t hire another great manager because he wanted too much money and power, he scrounges around and finds another manager not up to the job, and then he has to go back to the first guy anyway. And all this has only happened in the last few years!
However, on the eve of the new Premier League season, everything is silent on the Spurs front. There is no relocation drama around Harry Kane like this time last year. There is no uncertainty about the coach’s chair, however stable that chair can be when Antonio Conte is around. There are high expectations … except they are all entirely reasonable considering where the Spurs ended up last year, what they did this summer and the relative status of the clubs they will presumably compete with for Champions League seats. .
Where once there was fear, trepidation and disgust, there is only excitement, satisfaction and confidence. What’s going on here? We may need Conte to do some bullshit just to make us feel on axis again.
The serenity around the Spurs comes from a rather efficient and well-planned summer relocation activity, as well as their overwhelming 4th place finish last season. It also helped that they closed hard on the outside to nip the other North Londoners Arsenal to the wire. Nothing satisfies them like this. The Spurs knew what they had to add, they did it quickly and everything was pretty much fixed before they even returned for preseason training.
Front depth was ensured with Richarlison joining from Everton. While it may not start when Kane, Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski are doing well, Spurs will play many games with Champions League commitments (especially this season as the entire group stage will be crammed before the World Cup) and Richarlison he can insert himself in any of the three attacking points in Conte’s position. He won’t go stale on the bench. They added more depth on the wing with the free transfer of Ivan Perisic, a favorite of Conte of Inter who can be a winger or a full-back depending on the matchday. Midfield was scraped with the capture of Yves Bissouma from Brighton and although he is somewhat the same as Pierre-Emile Hǿjbjerg or Harry Winks, he is deep for a heavy schedule.
The defense was also hit by Clément Lenglet’s reclamation project, who had his reputation practically shattered in the ruins of Barcelona’s “what-have-ya” but is still the player who made it to Camp Nou. first and is a regular with the France squad. If anyone manages to make him realize his full potential, that’s Conte.
All this added to a team that finished with a flourish. Spurs have won eight of their last 11 games last season, including the draw at Anfield and clubbing at both Arsenal and West Ham along the way. They have not lost to either Liverpool or City last season, in fact they have beaten the latter twice. Once Conte settled down after some pretty heavy turbulence following his introduction to Tottenham (nothing can ever be really smooth with either him or Spurs), Spurs looked like the third best team in the country and finished just three points. from Chelsea. Considering how Spurs’ summer went and Chelsea’s summer, it is no wonder that more than a few are wondering if the Spurs won’t escape them this time while they probably won’t enter the gated community of Liverpool and City.
Richarlison’s signing makes the Spurs more injury-proof to Son and Kane than they have ever been. They will both certainly waste time somewhere along the line and usually that meant goals had dried up for Tottenham. Richarlison is used to leading a line alone with Everton and can definitely fill that void if he has to.
If there is one point that seems a bit short, it is the creativity of the midfield. There are plenty of destroyers and fortifications without much inspiration, although there are others in Hǿjbjerg to mine if they want. But Conte’s teams prefer to keep the midfield a safe zone rather than an art museum, preferring to attack at high speed through full-backs and forwards, of which the Spurs certainly have more than enough. Maybe when they come across teams that are happy to camp around their area and only give the ball to the Spurs, they might have a hard time, but that’s not a guarantee.
Of course, this is Spurs, and this is Conte. When something goes wrong for one of them, it tends to go wrong quickly right behind it. It’s just hard to see where he might break off with this team. Chelsea still need a lot of help after what they lost this summer. Arsenal look pretty tasty, but they have been just as Spurs-y as Spurs in recent times and their improvements are none other than what Tottenham have done. Nobody has any idea what United will be. Conte’s record in Europe is still very unpredictable, but Spurs still don’t expect to win the Champions League this season. This is a team that has taken everything Conte is selling, and when that happens the trophies tend to follow (see: Juventus, Chelsea, Inter Milan). It might not last long, given Conte’s propensity to get anxious pretty quickly, but for now it seems all systems are going. And even if he does, former beloved coach Mauricio Pochettino is practically walking out of the Tottenham Hotspur stadium waiting to volunteer to take his place.
Spur a regular sailing ship. Really strange days. Strange, mom.