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Antonio Conte sacked: Tottenham undergo deja vu as Italian's exit raises familiar issues for Daniel Levy, Harry Kane and club

Tottenham have sacked Antonio Conte as Daniel Levy changes manager for the fourth time in four years; Cristian Stellini has been placed in charge of Spurs until the end of the season in scenes reminiscent to Jose Mourinho's exit two years ago

Antonio Conte (right) has suffered the same fae as Jose Mourinho at Tottenham
Image: Antonio Conte (right) has suffered the same fate as Jose Mourinho at Tottenham

It's happened again. Daniel Levy has twisted the knife on yet another Tottenham manager - the fourth time in four years for the Spurs chairman.

Antonio Conte has joined Mauricio Pochettino, Jose Mourinho and Nuno Espirito Santo on the list of managers who have tried and failed to bring Glory, Glory to Tottenham Hotspur.

And for the second time in 23 months, a caretaker will take them to the end of the season. In 2021 it was Ryan Mason, this time the former Spurs midfielder will act as assistant to Conte's former assistant Cristian Stellini.

It all feels a bit too familiar for Tottenham supporters. So has Levy taken Spurs back to square one by repeating what he did two years ago? In fact, you could copy the entire Mourinho scenario and paste it into this season...

The timelines: Mourinho and Conte

Both Conte and Mourinho were meant to be the final piece of the jigsaw: The elite managers destined to take the trophy-deprived Tottenham squad that showed potential towards greatness.

But after a promising first half-season in charge, both managers failed to build on the platform they made themselves.

Mourinho took Spurs from the bottom half of the table to a Europa League finish in his first six months in charge - and his first summer transfer window saw him try to bring in winners.

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Gareth Bale, Gedson Fernandes, Carlos Vinicius, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Joe Hart, Sergio Reguilon and even Matt Doherty all shared the common theme of being players who had won league titles or major trophies in the years before moving to north London.

Jose Mourinho has been sacked by Tottenham
Image: Jose Mourinho was sacked at Tottenham despite a positive first six months in charge

But a promising start to the season, which saw Spurs top the table for a short while, ebbed away - with FA Cup and Europa League exits in February and March coinciding with a drop out of the top four.

Similar strands can be taken from Conte's time at Tottenham. Again, the Italian began life brilliantly - taking Spurs from being disillusioned under Espirito Santo to challenging the top sides in the league.

Conte's Spurs ended up pipping Arsenal to fourth in the Premier League table and, like Mourinho, the Italian used the transfer window to get his message across.

Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur's arrivals in January - helped by both Conte and sporting director Fabio Paratici's links to Juventus - were critical signings that boosted Spurs' top-four credentials.

Antonio Conte celebrates Tottenham's victory over Fulham
Image: Conte guided Tottenham to a fourth-placed finish in his first season

Spurs started this season brightly and Conte's side went into an October north London derby at Arsenal unbeaten in the league and within touching distance of the summit.

But a 3-1 defeat at the Emirates ended up being a sign of things to come: Conte's Spurs kept on losing to the teams around them and were never in the title picture after that. Defeats to Manchester United, Liverpool and Newcastle would follow before the World Cup.

Then, just like Mourinho, FA Cup and European exits brought about the beginning of the end.

What position were Spurs in?

Mourinho was let go on April 19 2021, just days before the Carabao Cup final against Manchester City and with six games of the Premier League season to go. Spurs were in seventh place in the table, five points off fourth-placed West Ham and 24 behind runaway leaders Manchester City.

Conte, meanwhile, guided his Spurs side to fourth at the time of his sacking, but that position is very much under threat given all of Newcastle, Liverpool and Brighton behind them have multiple games in hand. "We have a fight on our hands for a Champions League place," said Levy when announcing Conte's departure.


As mentioned above, both Conte and Mourinho oversaw FA Cup and Champions League exits in the weeks before their respective sackings but the one circumstance that separates them is that the Portuguese coach still had a chance of winning a trophy.

Mourinho was dismissed by Levy in the days leading up to a Carabao Cup final, in what was the closest Spurs have come to breaking their now-15-year trophy drought in several years.

Mason took over the Spurs team at Wembley, who were beaten 1-0 thanks to a late Aymeric Laporte strike.

Tottenham were beaten 1-0 by Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley last Sunday
Image: Ryan Mason took charge of Tottenham at Wembley in the Carabao Cup final

What were the moods at Mourinho and Conte's Spurs?

Another common theme between these two exits is how quickly both managers were let go after they criticised the mentality of the team.

Conte's outburst after Spurs threw away a 3-1 lead at Southampton to draw 3-3 dominated the major headlines. The Italian accused his squad of being "selfish" and "unable to play under pressure and stress".

"I'm not used to seeing this type of situation," he added. "I see a lot of selfish players and I don't see a team."

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Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte said the club needed to take responsibility for the current situation and felt his players didn't want to play under pressure in his final press conference

You can even pick out a similar Mourinho quote from two years ago.

After Tottenham threw away two leads to draw 2-2 at Newcastle in April 2021, Mourinho said of his players: "They come with things I'm not used to seeing in football matches at this level."

The Portuguese manager added that his squad lacked the "profile, vision, balance, which belongs to the top players".

Mourinho was let go 15 days later, following a 2-2 draw at Everton. Conte lasted just over a week after his outburst at Southampton.

What about Harry Kane?

Even back in the spring of 2021, the future of Spurs striker Harry Kane was one of the most talked about subjects in English football.

In the weeks after Mourinho's exit, Kane reportedly informed Spurs of his desire to leave the club in a bombshell revelation. Mason, as interim manager, faced questions he did not know the answer to as he was kept in the dark over Kane's future.

Harry Kane tells Tottenham he wants to leave
Harry Kane tells Tottenham he wants to leave

Man United, Manchester City and Chelsea have all been in touch with Kane's representatives expressing a desire to sign him.

Manchester City put in multiple offers for the striker, who had three years left on his contract and believed he had a gentleman's agreement with Levy to be granted an exit.

But the Tottenham chairman refused to budge and Kane ended up staying at Spurs, committing his future to Spurs in August in a public statement.

However, Kane is yet to sign a contract extension at the club and his deal still expires in 2024. The England captain has once again been linked with a move away, with Manchester United and Bayern Munich among the clubs eyeing up his signature.

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Melissa Reddy with the latest as Harry Kane's future could be unresolved heading into the January window with Tottenham not willing to sell him this summer.

Spurs and Kane both have a decision to make this summer. Tottenham face the dilemma of cashing in on Kane or risk losing him for nothing if a new contract cannot be agreed. Kane, meanwhile, will be aware this could be his last chance to seek silverware elsewhere.

Even with one year left on his contract, Spurs have reportedly slapped a £100m price tag on Kane to try and deter others from bidding for him.

Once again, these are big months ahead for Tottenham, Levy and Kane...

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