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Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Dan Kilpatrick

Tottenham need vision for future as uncertainty reigns during week of frustration

Even for a club so often as chaotic as Tottenham, this has been right up there in the annals of difficult weeks. Everywhere you look, uncertainty reigns.

Ahead of Monday’s London derby at Fulham, Antonio Conte’s future remains up in the air, with reports in Italy over the weekend claiming that contract talks between club and head coach have stalled, and that Conte will walk away in the summer at the end of his current deal. A series of swift clarifications followed, but the rumours have only added to the sense that the Italian’s uneasy partnership with Spurs is on borrowed time.

Meanwhile, on Friday, Conte’s main point of contact with the club, managing director Fabio Paratici, was hit with a two-and-a-half year ban by the Italian Football Federation for his part in a series of alleged financial irregularities at Juventus, where he worked for 11 years before joining Spurs in 2021.

Spurs are not commenting, as they await the official written reasons for the ban, which Paratici is planning to appeal, but the Italian federation have asked UEFA to extend the sanction to the whole of European football, which would leave his position at Spurs in jeopardy.

The lingering doubts extend to the squad, with captain Hugo Lloris’s place in the side under increased scrutiny after a series of high-profile errors and Harry Kane now in the final 18 months of his contract and linked to Manchester United.

Future in doubt: Reports suggest that Antonio Conte will walk away from Spurs this summer (Action Images via Reuters)

Kane’s willingness to open contract talks with the club next month is welcome news, although he will surely not commit to a new deal without assurances over Spurs’s ambitions, increasing the pressure on chairman Daniel Levy and Paratici to buy Conte new players in the next 10 days.

There is even a degree of uncertainty over the ownership, following Levy’s disputed meeting with Nasser Al-Khelaifi, the president of Paris Saint-Germain and chairman of Qatari Sports Investments, which is looking to buy a stake in a Premier League club.

Standard Sport understands the pair recently met in a London hotel, with the Qataris’ interest in taking a minority stake in Spurs on the agenda, although the club strenuously denies any such meeting took place.

Meanwhile, on the pitch, Spurs surrendered meekly to bitter rivals Arsenal last weekend before blowing a 2-0 half-time lead and conceding four times after the interval in Thursday’s defeat at Manchester City.

The Spurs fanbase has rarely been so frustrated, at least not since the week when the club joined the Super League, sacked Jose Mourinho and lost the League Cup Final

The mood among fans is understandably glum and febrile, and a small but vocal group protested against the ownership outside the club’s Hertfordshire training base on Saturday.

Certainly, the fanbase has rarely been so frustrated, at least not since the week when the club joined the Super League, sacked Jose Mourinho and lost the League Cup Final.

The general feeling is only being exacerbated by Arsenal’s fine form — and the Gunners’ last-minute winner against Manchester United on Sunday, a potentially title-winning moment, completed Spurs’s seven days of gloom.

In west London on Monday night, Conte has a decision to make over Lloris, with Fraser Forster an experienced if rusty deputy, but the Frenchman is not the only senior player whose place in the XI is under threat.

Heung-min Son was disappointing at the Etihad again in midweek and is under pressure from Richarlison, while Ryan Sessegnon could be handed a start against his former club following a dreadful display by Ivan Perisic against City.

Plainly, Spurs need a result at Craven Cottage against a resurgent Fulham to steady the ship and lift the mood, particularly with City lying in wait in their next League game, on February 5.

More than a short-term fix, however, the club needs long-term assurances and a vision for the future, which supporters and key personnel like Kane can buy into.

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