NORMAN GILLERíS SPURS ODYSSEY BLOG No 387
Submitted by Norman Giller
Spurs travel to Southampton tomorrow afternoon with confidence as high as it's been since the Pochettino days. Fifth in the table, games in hand and with a manager in Antonio Conte who has pumped new belief into the players and, just as important, we supporters.
Where there was disillusion there is now hope, and where there was despair there is now determination and desire. What a turn around!
Here comes a bold statement: I think we are seeing the early impact of a manager who will go down with the greats like Bill Nicholson, Arthur Rowe and Keith 'The General' Burkinshaw.
No, I've not overdosed on Christmas goodwill. I honestly believe Conte has the drive and the vision to give Spurs back our pride after two years of uncertainty and a loss of direction.
Of course, the merry mood would disappear in a flash if Daniel Levy does not back him to the hilt in the transfer window that opens on Saturday, New Year's Day (when Tottenham visit relegation-haunted Watford).
I cannot believe that Conte has agreed to take the job unless he has been guaranteed a strengthening of the squad, which does not have the necessary depth to challenge the Manchester City and Liverpool's of this world.
I have vivid memories of watching Conte play as inspiring captain of Juventus and a powerhouse for Italy when he was a cross between Paul Scholes with his passing and Roy Keane with his tackling.
Just as when he was playing, he does not take prisoners as a manager. He will be demanding chequebook action to go with his deeds, and I understand Director of Football Fabio Paratici is ready to argue his case for reinforcements. The strong whisper is that Conte wants AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie, and I think we are now into the era of 'what Antonio wants, Antonio gets.' Let's see.
Meantime, we want Spurs to continue their unbeaten run at Southampton, who are cockahoop after yesterday's victory over West Ham.
Our Spurs Odyssey guru Paul H. Smith gives his view of the Boxing Day dismantling of Palace HERE, spotlighting that Saha's kamikaze sending off helped make victory easier.
The fact that Conte was able to take off Kane, Hojbjerg and Son to save them for tomorrow's game at St Mary's shows that Spurs cruised to victory. We've not been able to say that too often in recent months.
Fingers crossed, and I take this opportunity to wish you on behalf of Paul and I a 2022 that brings only joy Ö and hopefully we sign off the surreal 2021 with a victory at Southampton.
The 19th week of season eight of the Spurs Odyssey Quiz League challenge, and the question is:
Who collected 64 caps and, while wearing the No 6 Spurs shirt, came on as a 75th minute substitute to help win a League Cup final?
Please email your answer to me at email@example.com and make the subject heading Quiz Week 19. Deadline: midnight this Friday. I will do my best to respond to all who take part.
The rules are the same as in the previous seven seasons. I ask a two-pronged question with three points at stake Ė two for identifying the player and one for the supplementary question. In the closing weeks of the competition I break the logjam of all-knowing Spurs-history experts with a tie-breaking poser that is based on opinion rather than fact. Thatís when I become as popular as Sol Campbell in an Arsenal shirt.
This yearís prizes for the champion: A rare out-of-print book from my now very special Greavsie collection with autographs from the late, great Jimmy Greaves, Dave Mackay and Steve Perryman, and, most important of all, a framed certificate announcing the winner as SOQL champion 2022. Plus a signed copy of My 70 Years of Spurs book AND a special bonus prize, the Eighty At Eighty book that I have written in harness with Sir Geoff Hurst, still the only man to score a World Cup final hat-trick.
Answer to question No 18: Who started his career with Charlton Athletic, won 18 England caps over 10 years from 2003 and which Tottenham manager bought him from West Ham?
Scott Parker, who was bought by Harry Redknapp. Several of you jumped in with Jermain Defoe, but he did not play a senior game for Charlton and won 57 England caps.
See you back here same time, same place next week. COYS!
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