The real Tottenham Hotspur hasn’t fully stood up as the Premier League reorganizes following the World Cup. In reality, since the beginning of August, the Spurs have been playing two separate seasons concurrently. In one, they have a slight lead over Manchester United, Liverpool, and Chelsea in the Premier League and have a favorable draw to advance to the round of 16 in the Champions League. On the other hand, their season still exudes an air of uncertainty. Spurs may have ended their season with a victory over Leeds United, but they dropped four of their last eight games, all against teams below them in the standings.
Even though it may still be early in the season, Spurs need to start winning games against the other top-eight teams if they want to keep their fourth Champions League spot for the balance of the campaign. Over five days in the middle of January, they face Manchester City and Arsenal, and then at the beginning of February, they play City again. If they drop all three of those contests, their chances of surpassing last season’s performance begin to seem improbable.
The Antonio Conte Situation is the backdrop against which all of this is happening. At the end of June, Conte’s 18-month contract, which he signed in November 2021, will be up for renewal. But throughout the initial half of this season, the likelihood of him taking that new contract steadily dropped, and it is still far from likely that he will extend. Even Conte’s desire for more reinforcements during the transfer window in January is fraught with some measure of doubt. It’s impossible to dispute that the manager hasn’t had support in the transfer window, but Conte has hesitated to employ some of the expensive gifts he gave him over the summer.
If Conte does not sign a contract extension, Spurs run the clear risk of overspending in the transfer window in January. The worst-case scenario would be if they added additional filler to the squad per the manager’s request only to have him leave after the season for a new position, leaving someone else to put the pieces together. There is still a shadow of Mauricio Pochettino on the horizon for many Spurs fans. The appeal of going back in time is clear.