Tottenham have appointed Cristian Stellini as acting head coach until the end of the season.
Spurs made the decision to part company with Antonio Conte following his extraordinary rant after last Saturday’s 3-3 draw at Southampton.
Here, the PA news agency looks at what will be in the in-tray of Stellini.
Lift squad morale
Squad morale will understandably be low after Conte’s tirade against “selfish players” that “play for themselves” last weekend. It was not the first time the Italian had turned on the group and while some of the passionate monologue hit the nail on the head, it made his position untenable. The majority of Spurs’ players departed for international duty immediately after their collapse at St Mary’s and new surroundings may have helped them forget the explosive scenes on the south coast, but it has ensured all eyes remain on a squad that has underachieved this season. A flurry of summer activity was expected to translate into more consistency. Instead, the opposite happened and even though a change of manager has occurred, bruised egos remain.
Attack the day!
Tottenham were free-scoring during the final months of the 2021-22 season and it was Conte’s 3-4-3 system in full flow. When his trusted formation of wing-backs and three attackers does click, it can be a joy to behold but those days have been few and far between in this campaign. Spurs supporters have instead repeatedly witnessed dull first halves where a pragmatic team sit back and invite pressure. Inevitably, it has led to goals aplenty being conceded with 40 shipped in 28 Premier League fixtures. But fans would accept a leaky defence if it was full throttle in attack. Yet a third of the goals scored under Conte in the top flight have been from set-pieces such has been their toothless nature up front. A simple way to get the fanbase back on side would be to ditch the negative counter-attacking tactics of the last three managers.
Fix misfiring forwards
While Harry Kane has been a model of consistency this season with 23 goals, his fellow forwards have struggled. Son Heung-min, the joint-Premier League Golden Boot winner last May, has scored in only six of his 37 appearances this campaign and been a shadow of himself with his confidence seemingly being drained with every passing week. Meanwhile, £60million summer addition Richarlison has failed to score in the league and only has two goals to his name during an injury-hit season. The fourth big hitter, Dejan Kulusevski, has also only found the net twice with Conte’s reliance on individual magic backfiring. If Spurs are to achieve anything during the final 10 matches, Kane finally requires some much-needed support.
Get top-four charge back on track
Conte’s departure may look odd on paper given Spurs are fourth in the table, but they have Newcastle breathing down their neck whilst Liverpool and Brighton will no doubt be firmly in the Champions League qualification race. Tottenham are already guaranteed a 15th consecutive season without silverware and to many fans another top-four finish will not be enough, but anything less will make it a disastrous campaign. Crucially, getting back into Europe’s elite competition could be a way of convincing Kane to stick around and the financial windfall for the club will surely translate into a portion of the summer spending for the new boss. Whilst a crunch seven-day period in April sees fixtures against Newcastle, Manchester United and Liverpool, six of Spurs’ other matches are against bottom-half teams. Fourth place is there for the taking.