Jermain Defoe has hailed Antonio Conte and expressed his shock at how quickly the Italian has sparked seismic improvements in the Tottenham squad, while speaking on talkSPORT.
Spurs moved rapidly to appoint Conte in November within a day of sacking Nuno Espirito Santo. The Portuguese lasted just four-months in the role of Jose Mourinho’s successor.
Results and performances have remained a mixed bunch under Conte for the most. Spurs have claimed eight wins to three draws and three defeats across all competitions so far. Two of those defeats came in comfortable wins for Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semi-final.
The north Londoners never truly threatened their rivals in either leg over the past week. Yet even when they did, Spurs still appeared second-best against Thomas Tuchel’s Blues.
Tottenham also trailed at home to League One Morecambe in the FA Cup before a final 15-minute turnaround. Conte needing two goals from Harry Kane to reach the fourth-round.
Conte stuns Defoe with Tottenham changes
But Conte has stunned former Tottenham striker Defoe with what the Italian has achieved since replacing Nuno at the helm. The ex-England international hails the 52-year-old after getting Spurs to shift up a gear from where they were under Nuno.
Defoe points to Tottenham covering more ground in Conte’s system than they had earlier in the season. The Times note Spurs covered 100.2km-a-game under Nuno and 107.5km last term. After Conte’s first seven games, their average distance covered was 115.3km.
“Everyone knows how much I love the football club and when Antonio Conte got the job, I was so excited,” Defoe said. “He is an unbelievable manager with his experience.
“You’ve got to look at the stats. I looked at the running stats and in such a short space of time, I could not believe the improvement. What was he doing in training?
“I messaged [Romelu] Lukaku and people like Ashley Young and Victor Moses, who have played under Conte and they said that the players have never, ever trained so hard. But at the same time it’s enjoyable, and that’s why the players are getting those numbers.”
Defoe will no doubt hope Conte’s actions at Hotspur Way now spark a response to losing to Chelsea against Arsenal. Tottenham host their north London rivals in the Premier League on Sunday seeking revenge for a 3-1 defeat under Nuno.
The Gunners were dominant in the first-half at the Emirates Stadium in September’s clash. Mikel Arteta’s side tore through the Spurs defence, and weathered in most a late response.