Conte recalls damaging Tottenham ‘habits’ when pressed on Son Heung-min axe; makes fixture admission amid pile-up

Antonio Conte, September 2022

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte says he is at the club to change “old habits”, amid a probe on Son Heung-min and his lack of goals.

Conte has impressed at Spurs, leading them to a top-four Premier League finish last season. Furthermore, Tottenham are unbeaten in six Premier League matches this term.

To add to the current buzz at Tottenham, they won on their return to the Champions League last week.

But, one player who is struggling to make a definitive impact this term is South Korean star Son. His 23 league goals last campaign won him a share of the Golden Boot with Mohamed Salah, although he has yet to find the net this time around.

Instead, Harry Kane, Dejan Kulusevski and new signing Richarlison have chipped in with the goals. When asked about potentially dropping Son, Conte insisted he is here to change the mindset of the squad more generally.

“I think when you try to build something important, with ambition and try to be competitive and win, you have to change old habits, otherwise you stay in balance and you don’t want to have ambition,” the Italian said.

“For this reason all the players have to accept that rotation is part of this aspect. We have four players [up front] and it’s very difficult right now to drop one.

“I have to take the best decision, sometimes for the players. Sometimes it’s better to come in for 20-30 minutes for them. I’m here to change the habit.

“The habit was that the players were used to playing all the time. Big clubs have a big squad. At the moment we don’t have a big squad but we have just started this process.”

Conte makes Tottenham fixture admission

Spurs return to action on Tuesday against Sporting in the Champions League, a week after their 2-0 win over Marseille.

Last Saturday’s Premier League clash with Manchester City – along with the rest of last weekend’s matches – was postponed as a mark of respect for the passing of the late Queen.

And Her Majesty’s funeral next Monday has caused policing issues and forced further postponements.

Tottenham still kick off against Leicester on Saturday evening, but Chelsea v Liverpool and Manchester United v Leeds United on Sunday are both being rescheduled.

Brighton v Crystal Palace had already been postponed due to rail strikes and a new date is yet to be found for the clash. The result is that Aston Villa v Southampton and Nottingham Forest v Fulham both kick off at 8pm on Friday.

Elsewhere, Brentford v Arsenal and Everton v West Ham will take place on Sunday.

Conte said: “For sure not having the match on Saturday has given us the situation to recover. In this case the game against Manchester City was postponed and it gave them the possibility to recover.

“I have the possibility to pick three important players and know I have a player on the bench ready to come on and help us.

“Against Marseille it was 0-0 and I decided to put Deki on to the pitch and also to keep the three strikers on to be attacking.

“The postponed game allows me to make a different decision. Against Man City I would have played with certain players but now I change things in my mind.”

Spurs need to continue momentum

Tottenham have enjoyed a solid start to the season and they will be looking to keep that going against Sporting.

Their performances have not always been convincing. But, for teams who want to achieve consistency and good results together, it is the win which counts.

The victories over Wolves and Nottingham Forest – 1-0 and 2-0 respectively – were proof of that.

And Spurs continued that trend against Marseille. The French side had Chancel Mbemba sent off at the start of the second half, but it took until the 76th minute for Richarlison to break the deadlock.

But once he did, he soon got a second strike. It is that mentality to never give up and seek to win convincingly over opponents which is the backbone of Conte’s mindset.