Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham Hotspur

Premier League • England

Antonio Conte’s first Tottenham training session offers big tactical hint

Matthew Briggs

Antonio Conte set up a training game in his first day in charge of Tottenham and gave the clearest hint about the system he will employ.

The Italian coach was installed as Spurs’ new boss on Tuesday. Just 24 hours after Daniel Levy pulled the trigger on Nuno Espirito Santo. Conte was a contender in June to take over from Jose Mourinho at Spurs in the summer, but the 52-year-old turned down the opportunity.

The former Inter Milan boss was understood to be concerned about the transfer budget. He was also worried about the uncertain future of Harry Kane. But just five months on and the Premier League and Serie A title winner has accepted the challenge.

“Last summer our union did not happen because the end of my relationship with Inter was still too recent and emotionally too involved with the end of the season. So I felt that it wasn’t yet the right time to return to coaching,” said Conte on Tuesday.

“But the contagious enthusiasm and determination of Daniel Levy in wanting to entrust me with this task had already hit the mark. Now that the opportunity has returned, I have chosen to take it with great conviction.”

And Conte was straight down to work at Hotspur Way setting up an XI v XI training match.

With a Europa Conference League game against Vitesse on Thursday, the new Spurs boss has little time to instil his message. But, according to Football Insider, Conte set up both sides at their Enfield base in a 3-5-2 formation.

It’s no surprise the Italian tactician has immediately employed a wing-back system. He did so in winning the Scudetto last season. And also guided Chelsea to the Premier League title in 2016/17 with the same formation.

Therefore it looks very likely that Conte will start with three centre-back against Vitesse and the following game against Everton.

Two wing-backs will also be employed and asked to offer the width for a front pair, likely to be Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min.

Kane has been well under par this season with just one Premier League goal and one assist from nine games.

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Historical Kane hint

Conte though is a big fan of the England man. Whilst working as a pundit at Euro 2020 he praised Spurs’ No.9. He also suggested he would keep Kane higher up the pitch, rather than encouraging him to come deep to link the play.

“Many praise Harry Kane for his ability to go get the ball and play with the team, such as with the equaliser against Denmark,” said Conte in June.


“Of course, he’s good at that too. But it’s in the box where he’s clinical. And as a coach, I would always keep him in there because he’s devastating.”

While the Spurs defenders will be excited to get started in a style that is set to offer them more first-team chances. The likes of Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn could find themselves on the sidelines more often..

The report from a ‘Tottenham source’ also suggested the first session from Conte was full of “energy”. While the squad were “loving” the arrival of the former Azzurri midfield general.

READ MORE: Conte facing Kane transfer headache, as true feelings on Tottenham appointment emerge