Former Manchester United midfielder Luke Chadwick admits he is surprised that Antonio Conte took the manager’s job at Tottenham, especially after a move in the summer fell through.
The Italian tactician has a superb record in his managerial career, having won titles with Inter Milan, Chelsea and Juventus, and one imagines he could easily have waited a bit longer to land an even bigger job than the one at Spurs.
Chadwick has warned Conte that it could be a particularly challenging job for him now that he’s taking over a Tottenham team low on confidence without the benefit of having pre-season with these players.
The ex-Red Devil is also concerned that Conte has to deal with a squad that’s gone a bit stale after the Mauricio Pochettino era, with even big names like Harry Kane and Son Heung-min not looking quite as good as they were.
“Only time will tell with Conte,” Chadwick told CaughtOffside. “The previous manager was set up to fail, really. He was a bit of a last resort, he was stuck with the Harry Kane situation, which has ended up being a bit of a nightmare for both parties, not just Kane but for Tottenham as well.
“Everyone knew the way he had his team playing at Wolves, the setup wasn’t really exciting, but it got results. Spurs needed to do something, and Conte’s had a great track record, he’s a really good manager.
“It’ll be interesting to see how he puts his stamp on this team that’s so out of confidence, and that looks a bit stale in terms of it being made up of leftovers from what wonderful Pochettino team. It’s an ageing team that’s not really evolved or developed in any way recently.
“I’m surprised, he obviously had the opportunity to go there in the summer and turned it down. We know he’s a manager who likes to put his own stamp on things and he could’ve done with a pre-season to get the team playing his style, so it’s surprising to see he’s gone there now with the team really struggling and low on confidence.
“There’s still fantastic players at Tottenham, it’s just whether he can get the spark back in them. You look at Harry Kane, Son, Lucas Moura, Dele Alli…if you can get these players firing then it’s a top four team, but it just seems that since Pochettino left the spark’s been lost to a certain extent.
“They had some exciting times when Mourinho started out, with Kane and Son looking a great partnership, but those two in particular just don’t look like the players they once were.”
There was recently talk of Conte possibly becoming Man Utd manager, but Chadwick spoke to CaughtOffside about the names available and sounded unconvinced that they’d be the right choices to replace the struggling Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
“Conte and Zidane, they’re two brilliant football people, two big names as players and coaches, but how do they fit into the Manchester United mould?” Chadwick said.
He added: “I can’t imagine Zidane or someone like that coming into Manchester United. Chelsea are obviously very different in the way they keep changing their managers every few years. United, going back to Sir Alex and the managers before him, they always had long-term projects, and I just don’t see that happening with a Zidane or a Conte.”