EPL

Conte calls on Spurs board to 'listen to me' on transfers as Kane senses trophy chance

By Sports Desk January 21, 2022

Antonio Conte urged Tottenham bosses to heed his transfer advice as Harry Kane declared the club must "take advantage" of having the Italian at the helm.

Since Conte came to Spurs in early November, the team have had five clean sheets in nine Premier League games and prised 21 points from a possible 27 to hurtle up the table.

The improvement has been dramatic compared to the unsteady start to the season under Nuno Espirito Santo, and transfer windows are when Conte can make further modifications to the squad he inherited.

Tanguy Ndombele could be on his way to Paris Saint-Germain on loan, and Conte has identified talent he wants to bring to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

"Honestly, I prefer to speak about this topic always with the club," said Conte on Friday. "For sure, I made an evaluation about the squad, but I have spoken to the club and I hope the club listen to me."

The former Inter boss delivered a Serie A title after he was backed in the transfer market, being able to sign the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Achraf Hakimi and Christian Eriksen.

"I think it is important for every club to win trophies, and at the same time you have to understand if you are ready to win," said Conte. 

"Every club could say, 'Yeah, I want to win trophies', but then you have to understand very well what is your point, where you are and then the path that you have to follow to try to be competitive and win.

"It is too simple to say that this team or another team want to win. One team wins, and the others seek to win. I know this because if you win you write the history and if you don't win, you played for a team that don't write the history."

On Sunday, Tottenham face a Chelsea team who wrote themselves into the history books last season, when winning the Champions League. They also knocked Tottenham out of the EFL Cup after home and away victories in the semi-finals earlier this month.

Spurs go into the game buoyed by news of a new two-year contract for captain and goalkeeper Hugo Lloris, described by Conte on Friday as "a point of reference for the whole club and also a point of reference for me".

Kane unquestionably falls into that category too, with the England captain beginning to find some form this term after a dismally slow start to the campaign.

Since Conte came in on November 2, Kane has scored four Premier League goals in nine outings, although he should probably have more, given his expected goals (xG) tally stands at 6.19 over that period.

That is based on the quality of chances he has had, with Kane having had more shots (41) than any other Premier League player in this time. He has found the target with 15 of those attempts, while two have hit the woodwork.

Kane believes Conte is the boss who can lead Tottenham to the success they crave.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Kane said: "He's one of the best managers in the world. We've not really reached the heights we've wanted to as a club over the last couple of years. It's a big opportunity now to take advantage of what we've got.

"He's a manager that demands a lot. He's doing everything he can and as players we've responded really well to him and everyone's working as hard as possible to get success. That's the ultimate goal for everyone here at the club.

"If you don't get one or two things right then you can really fall behind the pack and that's kind of happened to us. So we need to be careful that we don't keep falling."

Wolves' Adama Traore and Sevilla's Diego Carlos are among the players recently linked with Tottenham.

Tottenham face a tall order at Stamford Bridge, having lost five of their last six league games against Chelsea, drawing the other. Indeed, Tottenham have won just one of their last 31 away league games against Chelsea (D10 L20), a 3-1 success in April 2018 when Conte was in charge of the Blues.

Chelsea appear to have Tottenham's number this season, beating them in their first Premier League meeting of the campaign before the recent cup double.

The last Premier League team to win four games against an opponent in a single campaign were Manchester City against West Ham in 2013-14, while the last to win three games in the same month against an opponent were Aston Villa against Blackburn Rovers in January 2010.

Chelsea could match those feats on Sunday, though of course Conte will be battling to make history.

No manager or head coach to have previously taken charge of Chelsea in the Premier League has won against the Blues at Stamford Bridge in the competition (D7 L13). Conte will be the eighth such boss to try to crack the code.

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  • Europa League final: Glasner says there 'is no next level' for Eintracht Frankfurt Europa League final: Glasner says there 'is no next level' for Eintracht Frankfurt

    Eintracht Frankfurt boss Oliver Glasner believes his side cannot reach a higher level, despite their Europa League final win over Rangers on Wednesday ensuring Champions League football next season.

    Glasner was full of praise for his side, who battled from a goal down following Joe Aribo's 57th minute opener for Rangers to equalise via Rafael Borre and force extra-time at 1-1, before claiming a 5-4 penalty shootout win.

    With the Europa League triumph, Eintracht will play in Europe's premier cup competition for the first time since 1960 - where they eventually lost 7-3 in the final to Real Madrid – despite finishing 11th in the Bundesliga this season.

    According to Glasner however, his side's mentality is already that of a top team and as a result, he did not have to provide much instruction during intervals as the match progressed.

    "No, there is next level, it's impossible," Glasner said post-match. "I have to say a bit more about that. This year started difficult, but the players kept believing in themselves, what we told them, what we trained.

    "That shows the character, mentality they have. The spirit developed, today we had players who weren’t eligible for Europe but they were never negative, they were not selfish, they did everything for success. That's why I wasn’t surprised that even when it was difficult, our fans were louder than Rangers' and they pushed us forward."

    "I told the players the most important thing is that the referee doesn’t stress us, we have to control rhythm and I said just go do your thing like we've done so far, and that's it."

    After an intense first half, Eintracht started to see more of the ball as the game slowed down but it did not translate into substantial opportunities and Aribo's opener could have further deflated their play.

    The Eagles maintained in approach and eventually restored parity through Borre, beating Calvin Bassey to the ball and direct Filip Kostic's cross home in the 69th minute.

    Glasner also singled out the 26-year-old Colombian, who scored the equaliser and winning penalty after Aaron Ramsey's attempt in the shootout was saved by Kevin Trapp, claiming the performance and outcome is reflective of the work he puts in.

    "Rafa is incredibly important, not only the goals but he works hard even defensively and at half-time we showed the players some situations from the first half," Glasner said. "We didn’t have the intensity in attack and Rangers defended that well.

    "We had to invest everything, attack the front post and he did that very well. He ran and then had a really good chance. He fought really hard – he deserved it. He was great. He really helps us and is also a leader."

  • Europa League final: Van Bronckhorst stands by Ramsey substitution after Rangers' shootout loss Europa League final: Van Bronckhorst stands by Ramsey substitution after Rangers' shootout loss

    Rangers boss Giovanni van Bronckhorst stood by his decision to bring Kemar Roofe and Aaron Ramsey on as late substitutes following their penalties loss to Eintracht Frankfurt in Wednesday's Europa League final.

    With scores locked at 1-1 after 90 minutes, Van Bronckhorst brought the two on in the 117th minute with penalties in mind. Ramsey was the only player to not convert his penalty, Kevin Trapp saving with his feet at 3-3, before Rafael Borre followed Roofe's spot-kick to secure a 5-4 shootout win for Eintracht.

    It was the Gers' second Europa League final loss in as many appearances, following 2008's 2-0 loss to Zenit in Manchester.

    According to Van Bronckhorst, despite evident disappointment in the changing rooms afterwards, his final list of penalty takers was impacted by a combination of factors including Borna Barisic's inability to take one of the penalties, and pre-match preparation.

    "It was tough, physically, but the players gave everything and gave all their effort on the pitch," Van Bronckhorst said post-match. "I subbed some players because they were struggling physically, but I cannot complain. They gave everything and that's all you can ask as a coach.

    "Borna had to go out and he's one of the first penalty kickers in the game. We trained in penalty kicks, because some players are comfortable taking them. We had a good feel of players who wanted to take a penalty and players who didn't. In the end we had our list and we had to adjust it because of the subs.

    "You could see it after the game straight away, it's never a nice feeling. Everyone is very disappointed and you can sense that in the locker room. I think it's normal, so soon after the game, but Aaron took responsibility to take the penalty. Unfortunately he didn't make it, but you want players who are comfortable and who are ready to take them."

    Rangers created sporadic opportunities, with Joe Aribo's 57th minute opener at the top of the penalty area one of their only four shots in the box.

    The game petered after Borre's equaliser in the 69th, but Ryan Kent had the best chance to win the match in extra-time, only to be denied by Trapp from close range under pressure from Kristijan Jakic.

    Ultimately, Van Bronckhorst asserted he could not fault the effort of his players, and understands their post-match predicament more than most.

    "Especially in those minutes near the end of the game, it's decisive," he said. "It's a big chance for us, but Ryan did everything he can to score the goal. In the end, you know when you have chances you have to take them."

    "If you play a final in Europe and you lose, it's going to hurt, because if you play a final you will do everything you can to win it. In the end, with penalties, it's a lottery and tonight we weren't on the good side.

    "But I can't complain with everything my players gave and in the games before tonight. In the end, I think it was a really tight game. Went all the way to penalties and, you know, we lost. A big disappointment because we were so close to winning a trophy. I lost a World Cup final, the biggest game there is, also a huge disappointment but you have to move on."

  • Europa League final: Eintracht Frankfurt's 42 years of European despair over as reborn Rangers cruelly fall short Europa League final: Eintracht Frankfurt's 42 years of European despair over as reborn Rangers cruelly fall short

    It may not have been the electrifying classic some might have anticipated given the pre-match hysteria, but Eintracht Frankfurt won't care even a little.

    Forty-two years after their last success on the European stage, Die Adler are Europa League champions; defeating Rangers on penalties in Seville after a 1-1 draw that saw both teams show a degree of desperation not to lose, rather than to win.

    It's easy to understand that mentality as well. Eintracht's decades of underachievement may not have crippled them, but there was a sense it was playing on their minds.

    Yet, ultimately it was they who held their nerve in the crucial penalty shootout – Aaron Ramsey's missed spot-kick prolonging Rangers' own European trophy dry spell.

    In that regard, it didn't really matter which way the contest went – either way, one club was going to enjoy one of the all-time great nights in their history.

    Neither had won a European trophy since Eintracht were victorious in the old UEFA Cup in 1980. Eight years before that, Rangers won the Cup Winners' Cup.

    The Europa League may be looked down upon by some, but such barren runs and the generally surprising fact either team made it so far was what helped this contest resonate with so many.

    And the Europa League's ability to inspire dreams of European success in fans who without it would likely never enjoy such a continental triumph is the true ethos of the competition.

    Local police estimated 150,000 supporters were in Seville for the game, which was seemingly dubbed the 'fans' final'.

    It was undoubtedly an apt moniker given the unequivocal impact the two sets of supporters have had on the teams' respective routes to Seville. Rangers had the 'Ibrox factor'; Eintracht turned the Camp Nou into a sea of white.

    At times during the early stages on Wednesday, it felt as if Rangers were trying to stay afloat in a similar expanse of whiteness, such was the greater composure of Eintracht almost all over the pitch.

    Eintracht were more effective with clever steals of possession and appeared to have considerably greater confidence receiving the ball under pressure, allowing quick transitions through the lines.

    Chances flowed at first. Daichi Kamada danced through the Rangers defence and forced a point-blank save from Allan McGregor; Djibril Sow brought a stop from 20 yards on the rebound; and Ansgar Knauff looked destined to score after driving into the box.

    But as Rafael Borre struggled to impose himself physically up top against what coach Oliver Glasner on Tuesday described as a "robust" Rangers, Eintracht's bizarre persistence to smash the ball long to him started to work against them.

    This perhaps went some way to explaining how Frankfurt completed just seven passes to their opponents' 54 in the attacking half between the 22nd and 43rd minutes.

    The Scots' confidence visibly grew as their grip on the contest improved.

    Joe Aribo curled just wide. Ryan Jack drilled just over. Clear-cut chances they may not have been, but they were notable evidence of having settled after a shaky start.

    An Eintracht flurry just after the interval promised greater entertainment, but the Bundesliga side showed no desire to heed the warnings of their only major area of concern, and it proved their undoing.

    Borre was once again comfortably beaten in the air as Kevin Trapp hoofed the ball aimlessly up the pitch. Calvin Bassey's header was flicked on by Sow and Aribo took full advantage of Tuta pulling up injured to slide beyond the goalkeeper.

    It's unclear if Eintracht reverted to type – by focusing on wing play – as a result of the shock of conceding, but it worked, with Borre finally allowed to showcase his best attribute: movement.

    Filip Kostic played 140 more corners/crosses (519) than any other player from the top five European leagues this season before Wednesday, but this was arguably the sweetest.

    Played low into the 'corridor of uncertainty', the Rangers defence didn't know what to do and Borre nipped in front of his marker to prod home.

    As early as that point in the 69th minute, penalties appeared the most-likely outcome in the sweltering – even at 23:00 local time – conditions, though Rangers certainly did their best to ensure that wasn't the case, with Ryan Kent and James Tavernier almost nicking the win right near the end of extra-time.

    From there, it came down to composure. Perhaps, given the way they eased into the game itself a little better, we shouldn't be surprised Eintracht prevailed even in the face of thousands of Rangers fans, with each one of their five penalties brilliantly precise.

    Ramsey looked to the floor as Eintracht players, staff and officials swarmed onto the pitch in the wake of Borre's decisive kick.

    Rangers' tale of rebirth has already been an extraordinary one. Ten years after finding themselves back at the bottom of the pile in Scottish football, they were in a second European final of the century.

    But for a club deemed the third-biggest in Germany by virtue of support, it was high time a European trophy made its way back to Frankfurt.

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