By Sir Hardly Anyone
Much has been made of the fact that Conte wins things – particularly noting that he came to Chelsea, rescued them from oblivion and then continued his journey into frontiers new.
And the implication is that he will finally give Tottenham their third title. However, knowing of course that football journalists are a load of lazy whatnots who tend just to skim the surface and make things up as they go along I thought it was worth looking into this a little deeper.
Starting with Conte at Chelsea… Let’s take a quick peek at what Chelsea were doing before Conte turned up in 2016.
Chelsea won the league and cup treble (which is to say the league cup as well as the FA Cup) in 2010, were second in the league in 2011. The cup double came again in 2012 – this time the FA Cup and the Champions League, and then in 2013 the Europa League.
2015 saw Chelsea win the league again along with the league cup. So in six years in the top six, Chelsea won eight major competitions.
And then suddenly in 2015/16 they sank down to 10th in the league and were knocked out of all available cups fairly early on. Mourinho was sacked and Guus Hiddink came in as an interim manager.
Thus the Chelsea team that won the league under Conte in 2016/17 and were defeated finalists in the FA Cup, came from a club of serial winners. The Mourinho 10th in the league was a blip.
So what of Tottenham in the six years before Conte has arrived at the Unsponsored Stadium to compare with Chelsea’s eight major trophies in the run-up to his arrival at Old Stamford Bridge (New Stamford bridge now having been abandoned.)
In the past six seasons, Tottenham have come 2nd, 3rd (twice), 4th, 6th and 7th. They have won no cups despite entering three of the things every year (I’m counting moving from the Champions League to the Europa league and getting knocked out of the latter in the round of 32 in 2017 as one cup).
And that has not been for the want of a goalscorer: in each of these six years Harry Kane has been the leading goalscorer, getting between 24 and 41 goals in all the various cup competitions and the league, added together.
So the comparison between Chelsea when Conte took over and Tottenham in taking over now is quite large.
But let us go a little further and consider transfers. As we have seen above Chelsea were already serial winners when Conte appeared and went a-spending, buying in Batshuayi from Marseille for £33m, Kante from Leicester for £32m, Alonso from Fiorentina for £23m and David Luiz from PSG for £30m. Total £118,000,000 give or take. Something around £240m by today’s money, even allowing for the dip in prices last year.
Tottenham do have an asset in Harry Kane who will have a couple of years left on his contract, and could be flogged off for some money, (Football Observatory reckon him to be worth about £100m at the moment) but then he has to be replaced, as well as upgrading a load of other players. And remember Kane has been scoring between 24 and 41 goals a season across each of the last six seasons, so that is likely to be £100m in for selling him, and that money immediately spent replacing him. Still leaving the club to find £240m to spend on Konte’s upgrades.
But let’s not forget that earlier point: Chelsea won six trophies in eight years. Tottenham have of course won eight trophies (FA Cups, League Cups and Uefa Cups) but to get to eight that takes us back to 1972, which is 49 years ago, compared with Chelsea’s eight trophies in six years.
For Conte to do what he did at Chelsea at a club that is in significant debt and which does not spend money a lot, seems to be asking quite a bit of the new manager. And personally, I am not sure that he has been brought in to deliver Tottenham trophies. I think he has been given the job for 18 months to steady the ship after a series of managerial disasters and to keep the fans quiet for a bit longer, until the owners can find someone else to flog the club to. Also as a window for himself, as he pitches for a job at one of the big time players in Spain or France.
Remember all the razzamatazz of the new stadium – as if a new stadium would bring success. In the past two seasons Tottenham have come 6th and 7th in the league and been runners’ up in the league cup. In the last two seasons Arsenal have come 8th, so they’ve outdone us (just), but we have won the FA Cup. I think they are still lagging a little behind.
To answer my question at the top: no I don’t think that Conte will win the league for Tottenham. But they might be beaten finalists in the league cup. Again.
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