Antonio Conte: In profile
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Antonio Conte reportedly told his team to prepare to return to England with Manchester United just days before his move to Tottenham was confirmed. The Italian is understood to have held informal discussions with the Red Devils in the aftermath of their 5-0 hammering at home to Liverpool nearly two weeks ago.
The United hierarchy were concerned about the future of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer following the nature of the defeat, meaning the board were forced to devise a Plan B.
Solskjaer was handed the chance to save his job at Tottenham, an opportunity he grasped with both hands as United won 3-0 following a formation change to three at the back.
But United’s safety blanket of having Conte waiting by the phone was soon taken from them as Tottenham parted company with Nuno Espirito Santo.
The Italian was approached by Spurs and a deal was struck within two days as Conte came in to replace Nuno in north London.
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Now it has emerged that Conte had initially told his team to prepare for the prospect of joining United following contact from the club before Tottenham moved to steal him from the Red Devils’ clutches.
Journalist Duncan Castles told the Transfer Window Podcast: “The information I have is that after initial conversations with Manchester United following the 5-0 defeat to Liverpool in which Conte expressed his interest in moving to English football, it went quiet.
“Conte’s team were wondering whether Manchester United were going to turn it into a concrete offer but he had them ready should that happen.
“They were basically warned that they could be going back to England and it looks like being Manchester United.
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“The conversations went dead then. There was a question yesterday once Tottenham started talking to Conte once again, whether that was an attempt to get Manchester United back to the table.
“The answer was that if it was, it was a failed attempt.
“Conte will obviously tell us that there was nothing in that strategy but there was again, I’m told, no contact from Manchester United yesterday or overnight.
“So they have allowed this to happen at a time when Solskjaer’s tenure at Manchester United is more endangered than it’s ever been.”
Conte is preparing to take charge of his first game at Tottenham this evening as Spurs host Vitesse in the Europa Conference League.
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The former Chelsea and Inter Milan boss is keen to repay the faith Daniel Levy and Fabio Paratici have shown in him after returning to finally land him following an unsuccessful approach earlier this summer.
“I am extremely happy to return to coaching, and to do so at a Premier League club that has the ambition to be a protagonist again,” Conte said.
“Tottenham Hotspur has state-of-the-art facilities and one of the best stadiums in the world.
“I can’t wait to start working to convey to the team and the fans the passion, mentality and determination that have always distinguished me, as a player and as a coach.
“Last summer our union did not happen because the end of my relationship with Inter was still too recent and emotionally too involved with the end of the season, so I felt that it wasn’t yet the right time to return to coaching.
“But the contagious enthusiasm and determination of Daniel Levy in wanting to entrust me with this task had already hit the mark. Now that the opportunity has returned, I have chosen to take it with great conviction.”
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