Mura 2-1 Tottenham: The moment Antonio Conte realised the challenge he faces as Spurs boss

  • Kobe Tong

Tottenham Hotspur suffered one of the most humiliating defeats in their history on Thursday night.

Slumping to a 2-1 loss at NŠ Mura in the UEFA Europa Conference League, the north London club are facing the prospect of dropping out of Europe’s third-string competition in the group stages.

Harry Kane had initially neutralised Tomi Horvat’s opening strike despite Ryan Sessegnon’s red card, but a dramatic stoppage-time winner from Amadej Marosa ultimately confined Spurs to defeat.

Mura 2-1 Tottenham

For context, the Slovenian minnows are the lowest-ranked team in the entire competition who had lost their last four games in Europe and were founded as recently as 2012.

It really was a heroic performance from Mura and one that should be applauded as an iconic moment in their short history, but there’s no escaping the fact that Tottenham dug their own grave.

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A truly woeful display from a largely second-string XI saw Antonio Conte tearing his hair out on the touchline with the realities of managing Tottenham surely creeping up on the Italian coach now.

We don’t mean that as some broad-stroked criticism of Spurs either because the fact of the matter is that the club has been cripplingly inconsistent ever since the final throes of Mauricio Pochettino’s reign.

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Penny drops for Conte

And now Conte must be going through a similar process of realisation as Jose Mourinho and Nuno Espirito Santo with the lower rungs of Spurs’ squad looking lost at the Fazanerija City Stadium.

So, it shouldn’t come as a shock that Conte was visibly frustrated during his post-match press duties with the 52-year-old making it clearer than ever that the situation at Spurs is starting to sink in.

Conte bemoaned during his press conference: “I must be honest and tell you that after three and a half weeks, I am starting to understand the situation is not so simple.

“I can tell you that the situation is not simple. It is not simple because, in this moment, the level of Tottenham is not so high.”

The former Italy international added: “I know that in this moment we need to have patience, time and I am here because I know there are problems to solve.

“But after three and a half weeks, I am happy to stay here but at the same time I must be honest and tell you we need to work a lot to improve the quality of the squad.


“We are Tottenham and Tottenham in this moment, there is an important gap. If someone thinks that a new coach arrives and Conte won in the past and then I am a magician … but the only magic I can do is to work.”

Conte can turn things around

Conte had largely been eased into the job with victory over Vitesse, albeit a hard-fought one, along with the 0-0 draw at Everton and 2-1 win against Leeds United in his first few weeks in charge.

But a first defeat for the Spurs boss, never mind one of such historic proportions, will truly hammer home the reality that Tottenham are miles away from becoming top European competitors again.

Over the last decade, we’ve seen Conte benefit from mostly fortunate resources at Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan, so it will be interesting to see how he steers the ship in north London.


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If any manager can do it, then it’s Conte, but nothing will bring home the reality of the challenge that faces him better than humiliation against UEFA Europa Conference League’s supposed bottom club.



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