Ally McCoist believes Tottenham fans have no right to criticise Antonio Conte over his Djed Spence snub, but a second pundit has warned of a deeper issue.
Spurs added the 22-year-old to their ranks from Middlesbrough in the summer transfer window. But despite the England Under-21 international emerging as an exciting talent, he has yet to make an impact.
That is because Tottenham boss Conte has so far restricted his game time to one fleeting appearance.
Following a second Spurs defeat in three games – and a red card for Emerson Royal – some fans have called on Conte to give Spence a proper chance.
However, Conte has hit back. He insisted that the full-back needs more time before he can make his mark.
According to former Rangers man McCoist on talkSPORT (04/10, 9.25am), though, fans have no right to argue with the manager’s judgement.
“You can’t [question it], because the bottom line is, Conte is doing what he feels is best for Spurs,” McCoist said. “He said he’s a young player with good prospects, so he obviously feels he’s not ready to chip in, particularly a north London derby.
“One thing you would say is, that position is up for grabs more than anywhere else in the Spurs team. Emerson Royal hasn’t really covered himself in glory, Matt Doherty hasn’t got back into the side.
“You would think in that position, Djed Spence would say, ‘If I knuckle down here, show the manager I can get in this team and be an option for him’.
“He [Conte] was almost getting annoyed at people judging his ability to pick a team. And he’s right, are we seriously thinking that there are people who go and watch and support Tottenham think they know better than the guy that’s watching them in training day in, day out? No, not for me.”
Pundit hints at deeper Spence, Tottenham issue
According to former goalkeeper Paul Robinson, though, Spence’s lack of action speaks to a deeper issue.
Robinson told Football Insider that he wonders “whether there is something that is not right on the training ground”.
He added that it has made him “question what say the manager had in the transfer”.
“There is something that is amiss there, something is not quite right,” Robinson said.
“It is not going to do his development as a player any good to sit on the bench and watch three players in front of him.”
Spurs have to trust Conte
Spence’s role is rightly in the spotlight given he cost up to £20million and has barely featured.
Although, Tottenham fans have to trust Conte over his decisions as he has proven his worth in winning titles before.
Not only has he enjoyed success in Europe with Inter and Juventus, but he has also won the Premier League with Chelsea.
Just because his team have lost two of their past three matches does not mean the focus should squarely be on a player who is not playing.
What about the 11 players on the pitch? Tottenham’s midfield has also come in for criticism, while Richarlison still needs to prove he can be the man to get the goals.
On the flipside, Emerson is obviously struggling in the right wing-back role. But, he clearly has the trust of Conte to turn it around, unlike an unproven Spence.