Conte mushes up Tottenham
Tottenham are struggling not only to gain a foothold in the so-called English “Big Six”, but also to seriously contend for the English league title. And to do that they not only need to retain their leaders and acquire strong newcomers, but also to guess with the right coach. “Spurs are having their first full pre-season preparation with Antonio Conte, who is known for his rather tough methods of work.
English journalists visited Tottenham’s camp, which is holding a training camp in South Korea, to see how tough things are there. Let’s take a look at the preparation of Spurs, who defeated the Korean league team 6-3, and note the points that Conte relies on in his work to make the team a title contender.
It’s Conte who has a hard time learning. Daily Mail reporters attended the second training session on Monday, which lasted two hours. It started with a harmless ball warm-up, a ten-on-ten game on two-thirds of the pitch, and ended with a crazy run that no one was warned about. It all took place in front of six thousand fans in the humid and hot air of Seoul.
The players had to run 42 lengths of the soccer field at a fast pace, that is, not jogging. After each series of three or four runs there was a short break. At the same time, for those who still spent a lot of time in the national teams in the summer, the distance was shortened to 30 lengths of the field. But in the 30-degree heat and sweltering heat, not everyone could take it either. For example, Sohn just collapsed on the field after one segment, fainting, but still soon recovered and finished the exercise. And at one point, Kane just threw up after finishing another segment.
Brian Heale and Davinson Sanchez took the lead for most of the run, and young forward Troy Parrott was the best in the final stretch.
Attention to detail
The grueling workouts are only part of the groundwork Conte is trying to put into the team before the start of the season. Its physical component. With no less fanaticism he approaches the tactical elements, literally hammering into the players the components of tactics. For example, he arranges colored flags around the field, which symbolize the ball, and then randomly points to this or that flag, saying that this is the ball – and the team must move and readjust according to the position of the hypothetical ball.
And it goes over and over again. Once, in the course of last season, Conte was an hour late for a press conference. All because he was late for a tactical training session with the team. And both the first-team players and reserves take part in the work equally, because everyone should know and be able to work on their role and understand the team moves.
Very important to Conte is his coaching staff, which is formed for specific tasks. For example, he took Tottenham apart last season when the team had the worst running stats in the league. With him, those stats got better. And in no time at all. And here Conte relies not only on himself – it would be too presumptuous.
Instead of one coach on physical training, which was at his predecessor Nuno Espiritu Santo, Conte invited three coaches at once. Coratti, Ventrone and Bruno quickly “pumped up” the Tottenham players’ lack of physical components of the game. Relying on experts is a great trait of a competent manager who realizes that he is neither omnipotent nor omniscient.
The Professor with the bell
Gianpiero Ventrone is worth mentioning separately in this coaching company. The 62-year-old native of Naples is known throughout Italy as a tough and uncompromising fitness coach. Even Zidane has spoken of him. When he made the decision to sign with Juventus in 1996, he called Didier Deschamps to ask about the club.
Deschamps spoke enthusiastically to Zinedine about the club and the league, but he also warned him that Juventus had a Ventrone who would beat the crap out of him. Zidane said he didn’t pay much attention to that clarification at the time. But he had no idea how hard training could be. And he often threw up after some sessions.
Ventrone’s goal seems simple enough – he makes sure players go beyond their physical limits. For example, he uses the “shame bell” method: all players perform some hard physical exercise to the limit of their abilities, and whoever no longer felt able to perform it had to ring the bell. Of course, this added a psychological component to the standard practice routine.
Despite Ventrone’s seemingly sadistic measures, Zidane was grateful to him for his form. During some of his workouts, Ventrone would play some adrenaline-pumping music like Richard Wagner’s Flight of the Valkyries. Among Ventrone’s mottos were said to be “work today to run tomorrow,” “die but finish the job,” and “victory goes to the strong. Conte worked with Ventrone at Juventus and is now trying to mentor Tottenham’s players.
Not only the body has to work, but also the mind. To do this, Conte has a daily video analysis in his training sessions. This is a very detailed slices, on the example of which he shows each player where he should have made a step to the left, where to the right. He uses videos everywhere: after training sessions, during training sessions, before training sessions, before games, of course. And the debriefings can last over an hour. Everything is taken apart, from the games to the plays at practice.
Attention to food
Conte is obsessed not only with physical training and tactical details. He has a very thoughtful approach to nutrition. In his first week in Tottenham, the coach has changed the menu in the club dining room, removing heavy food and sandwiches, getting rid of ketchup and mayonnaise, reducing the amount of oil in food, increasing the amount of fruit in the diet of the players.
Interestingly, he used different methods at different clubs and varied the nuances of the diet, not making it the same in all cases. For example, for Lukaku at Inter, Antonio developed a special diet (not by himself, of course, but with a special nutritionist), and Romelu in Milan simply blossomed after some time, lost weight, gained freshness and sharpness.
There is a downside
Not everyone can withstand such conditions. Yes, we are talking about professionals, about athletes, but at the same time they are already established very rich stars. Not everyone wants to spend hours parsing a step the wrong way on a training video, or sprinkling the fields with lunch begging to go outside after an unbearable run.
Hence the occasional confrontation with the coach, who also communicates with club managers in an appropriate ultimative and harsh manner. This was most noticeable before his departure from Chelsea, during the conflict with Diego Costa, who went crazy with prolonged tactical sessions on the field. Not everyone and not always suited to such harsh methods, otherwise it would have been a universal recipe for victories. But now it’s interesting to watch how Tottenham tries to align itself with Conte’s harsh demands.