Tottenham: Back Antonio Conte now, or regret it – Jermaine Jenas analysis

MOTD2 analysis

When it comes to who is the right manager for Tottenham right now, all of my belief is in Antonio Conte – and I honestly think I can speak on behalf of most Spurs fans when I say that.

Yes, Sunday’s result against Chelsea was a disappointing one, but it was his first defeat in the Premier League and there have been loads of positives since he took charge at the start of November.

I genuinely believe he is building something but, to do it, he needs the right players – and I have never seen the point of hiring Conte if you are not going to give him what he needs.

He has never been the kind of manager to go out and spend hundreds of millions of pounds on his teams, but what he does want at Spurs is some better quality than he has got, and I think he deserves that.

There are a lot of stale players at that club who need to be moved on, but there is also a clear need for some fresh faces in some key positions – centre midfield for example, and at centre-half.

Snapshot showing 3rd to 8th in the Premier League: 3rd Chelsea, 4th Man Utd, 5th West Ham, 6th Arsenal, 7th Tottenham & 8th Wolves

Conte has already made a massive difference with the way he has galvanised a group of players into a squad that can challenge for a top-four place, because when he arrived they were nowhere near that.

So it would be stupid for Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy not to back him, because Conte is the one. He is the guy that Levy should want at his club for the next five years, so he has got to treat him accordingly.

If Levy was to lose Conte because he doesn’t give him what he wants, then I’d fear for the backlash you’d see from the Spurs fans, because they see him as their best chance of moving forwards.

I feel the same way – backing Conte and giving him what he needs to challenge for the top positions should not be seen a gamble. Why wouldn’t you help him?

Traore would not be my priority

Conte made it quite clear in his post-match interviews after this latest defeat by Chelsea – the third time Spurs have lost to them this month – that the disparity between the two teams, and between Spurs and Manchester City or Liverpool, is huge.

He is right, and that won’t change with a couple of signings before the transfer window closes next week. The gap to the top three will take time and serious investment to make up.

What is up for grabs right now though is fourth place this season. Bringing the right player in now could be the difference between making it or not, and that would be huge for what happens next.

Right now, the bottom line is that Conte doesn’t have what he needs – what we saw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday was a clear example of that.

Spurs are a vastly improved team because of him, but right now they are probably still going to finish sixth or seventh – not fourth.

What could change that? Well, Wolves winger Adama Traore is one of the players who has been linked with a move to Spurs this month, and there is talk that Conte would use him as a wing-back – like he did with Victor Moses at Chelsea.

It would be a big step up for Traore, though, and we don’t know how he would respond to it. I’d like to see him sign but I wouldn’t make him a priority, because there are other positions that Spurs need to strengthen in more – midfield in particular.

I don’t worry about Spurs scoring goals but making them has been a problem. There are some very steady players in their midfield, but there is a lack of flair and creativity in the team.

Tanguy Ndombele was meant to be that player but Spurs are not getting a tune out of him so they need to rid of him and bring in someone else – if it is just one player that arrives this week, then it should be a top midfielder like the teams at the top end of the table have got.

A game of few chances for Kane

Graphic showing Tottenham's starting XI against Chelsea: Lloris, Doherty, Davies, Sanchez, Tanganga, Dier, Hojbjerg, Winks, Sessegnon, Bergwijn, Kane
Tottenham’s starting XI against Chelsea

I don’t know if Conte was trying to make a point about his squad with his selection on Sunday – maybe he was sending out a message about what he needs? – but for me it still goes down as a missed opportunity.

Like I say, I love Conte and I think he is going to do great things at Spurs as long as he is backed, but he went with the wrong team at Stamford Bridge and he only has himself to blame for the 2-0 defeat.

The thing that annoyed me most about the side he picked was the lack of ambition, bearing in mind I felt like Chelsea were as weak as they are going to be under Thomas Tuchel – out of form, complaining about being tired and with their main striker, Romelu Lukaku, out of sorts.

In contrast Spurs had the chance to build on the momentum from their incredible last-gasp win over Leicester in midweek but, when I saw their line-up, I just thought it completely took the wind out of their sails.

It was basically four full-backs and two holding midfielders, and playing with a back-four it meant they had eight defensive players, which was very strange.

Not only did it go massively against Conte’s beliefs about how to play football but, because he moved away from his usual set-up of three at the back, he didn’t really give Spurs a chance. They were on the back foot from the first minute.

There were only two Tottenham players on the pitch who could score goals – Harry Kane and Steven Bergwijn – and zero creativity. Any time Spurs attacked, the furthest players forward to support the front two were Japhet Tanganga, Matt Doherty and Ryan Sessegnon.

I actually thought Kane played well. He looked sharp and he put in an absolute shift – for me, he is getting back to his best.

But other than his disallowed goal he barely got a sniff. He must have been thinking what chance has he got in games like this when Spurs do not have creative players in the team to make opportunities for him.

Jermaine Jenas was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

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