The warning signs were there, staring Tottenham straight in the face on Sunday.
So lucky to go into the interval, just a goal down against Leeds, the Spurs, with the help of Antonio Conte’s history from the sidelines, managed to secure their first win since Nuno Espirito Santos’ firing with a lively comeback.
A corner seemed to have been turned, the Conte revolution in north London seemed to have taken its first preliminary steps. Or so it seemed.
Thursday’s chaotic Europa Conference League defeat to minnows NS Mura – a team with a UEFA coefficient ranking of 341 – proved that the victory over Leeds was simply drawn over the cracks that still exist in this Tottenham squad.
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Former Tottenham midfielder Jamie O’Hara did not hold back in his criticism of the team’s performance in the defeat to NS Mura
If Conte was not aware of the scale of the task set before him, the events in Slovenia offered a surprising reality check for the Italian.
“After three weeks, I’m starting to understand the situation,” he admitted at his post-match press conference. “At the moment, the level at Tottenham is not that high. We were bad not only technically and tactically, but also mentally.”
Make no mistake about it, Conte’s task has as much to do with matters on the pitch as it does with the minds of this expensively put together, underperforming Tottenham squad.
Their use, enthusiasm and energy, or lack thereof, has averted Mauricio Pochettino, Jose Mourinho and Nuno in just over two years. Conte has worked out to avoid suffering the same fate. Jack Wilkinson
Foxes show bite – at long last
Leicester have worked hard on a relatively straightforward Europa League group and you would have laughed if you had been told it would take them until the fifth match to finally win another victory in the tournament.
But it’s been a season to forget for Brendan Rodgers all along, so far, right? Maybe until now at least.
Just as Leicester have languished near the bottom of the Premier League table in the first 12 matches, so they were last in Group C of the Europa League, going into tonight’s match with Legia Warsaw.
Now, 90 minutes later, they are sitting nicely at the group summit after one of their best performances of the season, with their fate in their own hands ahead of a trip to Naples in fourteen days.
The Foxes have been guilty of slow starts this season, but all three of their goals came in the first half hour here – and they could have gotten more.
No one expects Chelsea, the top of the Premier League, to worry too much about a result like this. But something has to bring Rodgers’ boys to life. Is this the moment? Ron Walker
Van Bronckhorst gets a tune out of Morelos
It has been a mixed season for Alfredo Morelos, who has cut a frustrated figure ahead of Rangers in plenty of matches.
But in Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s first match at the helm, the Colombian striker looked back to his very best as the Rangers beat Sparta Prague 2-0 to reach the knockout stage of the Europa League.
The 25-year-old pushed from the front and really made himself a nuisance – traits that Morelos is known for. The goals also followed – a fine finish to his first while he was in the right place at the right time to snatch Rangers’ crucial second place.
He has now scored 13 goals in European competition for Rangers (excluding qualifiers), which is the most common of any player in the club’s history, on par with Ralph Brand.
The 13 goals he has now scored in the Europa League since the start of 2018/19 are a move that has only been improved by Munas Dabbur (17), Bruno Fernandes (16) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (14) in the same period.
And Van Bronckhorst, who revealed it was a plan to get Morelos to play further ahead, was pleased with his striker’s performance.
“He did really well,” Van Bronckhorst said. “He is a striker who can create danger. Sometimes he has something to do with going into midfield, but as you can see with the wingers we have, we always have to create chances with the crosses. We have to have bodies in the field and in tonight he did really well. “
It’s certainly a promising start for Van Bronckhorst, Rangers and Morelos, but the Dutchman and Rangers fans will hope it’s not even one from the Colombian. They want to see a lot more of this Morelos in the next few weeks as the focus shifts to their Scottish Premiership title defense, which starts in Livingston on Sunday, live on Sky Sports. Oliver Yew
Sunday, November 28 at 11 p.m.
Kick off at 12.00
Celtic so close, but so far
How long would Celtic fans have talked about tonight if they had held on to the 2-1 lead they had over Bayer Leverkusen within the final 10 minutes.
It is a sign of how far Ange Postecoglou’s team has come and how far they have left to go that the Bhoys were so close to victory against a team currently one point from third place in the Bundesliga.
It feels much longer than two months ago, Celtic were beaten 4-0 in their own backyard by the same opponents as they went from one problem to another in a tough start to the season.
Now the new manager has his feet firmly under the table, they were painfully close to a famous victory on the continent – an all too rare in the last few years – through some well-known Kyogo Furuhashi and Jota genius, but also Joe Hart’s heroism at. the back.
There was plenty of character in Germany and you will not see many goals worked better than Celtics second.
In the end, some schoolboy mistakes and a noticeable drop in quality, as Postecoglou got some of his tiring heroes, proved expensive in the end.
But tonight is not an evening to focus on the depth of the squad or what could have been. After a performance like that, for at least 80 minutes, the manager and his players should wonder what they can achieve in the coming years – and whether they can have a real impact in the Europa Conference League after Christmas. Ron Walker
Professional West Ham get the job done
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West Ham boss David Moyes welcomes his side’s qualification for the Europa League knockout stages with a match to spare after a 2-0 win in Vienna
West Ham have reached the quarter-finals of the Europa League after winning their group with a 2-0 victory in Rapid Vienna. The victory also continues their undefeated race in Europe this season, but there was no fanfare and there were no major celebrations on the part of David Moyes and his side.
It was a matter of work done, and there was even a slight disappointment from Moyes over his team’s performance in Vienna.
“Job done, yeah. We did a professional job tonight, and throughout the group game we’ve done a great job. It’s a great honor for the players for the way they have done the job for a group that is relatively new. in Europe.
“It’s something I have not taken to myself yet. I knew we could handle the task, but I think tonight we have not played as well as we have done, but we did enough to get through It’s probably a good sign that I I’m not entirely happy with the way we played, but we have won relatively comfortably.
Moyes is probably a bit tough on his side, who rested a number of regular players from the first team ahead of their Premier League clash with Manchester City on Sunday, but the reaction is a sign of how far West Ham have come under the Scot.
The great results in Europe are no longer a surprise for this West Ham team, which not many teams want to face in the knockout when it comes after Christmas. Oliver Yew