Antonio Conte may see the positives from Tottenham now being out of the Europa Conference League and it wouldn’t be the first time he has found success without European football.
Spurs had a rollercoaster start to their Europa Conference League journey but with a new manager and some improved performances, things were looking more positive at their chances of ending their 13-year trophy drought, but that has all come to an end.
The Lilywhites were second in the table going into the final group game which ended up being called off due to their recent Covid outbreak. A victory would have seen them qualify, after Vitesse beat NS Mura 3-1.
There was hope that a date could be found for the game to be rescheduled, but an agreement couldn’t be made from both Spurs and Rennes.
A decision has now been made and it doesn’t work in Tottenham’s favour.
“The Chairman of the UEFA Appeals Body took the following decision: To declare the 2021/22 UEFA Europa Conference League group stage match between Tottenham Hotspur FC and Stade Rennais FC, that was initially scheduled to be played on 9 December 2021, as forfeited by Tottenham Hotspur FC, who is therefore deemed to have lost the match 0-3 in accordance with Annex J.3.1 to the Regulations of the UEFA Europa Conference League (2021/22 Season).”
Spurs then responded to express their disappointment with the decision.
“We are disappointed by the ruling of the UEFA Appeals Body and the refusal to allow more time for the match to be rescheduled,” said a Tottenham Hotspur spokesperson.
“We have to accept this ruling, however, and our focus now turns to the competitions we remain in.”
Spurs still have chances to win silverware in the Carabao Cup and FA Cup, once they join the competition and being out of Europe may not be a bad things for Conte’s side.
The Italian led his Chelsea side to win the Premier League in his first season in charge of the Blues and although that’s not the stage Tottenham are at yet, there is no saying he can’t take them to that stage too.
Before Conte’s 2016/17 season, Chelsea had just finished their last season in 10th place after winning as many games as they lost (12) and being 16 points off a top four place.
The 52-year-old completely turned it around and they finished his first season in charge, top of the table, seven points ahead of second-placed Tottenham and with just five losses.
Of course they had to produce good results and performances but they also didn’t have the added pressure and time constraint by being in Europe, because of their 10th place finish the season before.
Aside from the Europa Conference League, the Lilywhites have had three Premier League games postponed – two due to their Covid outbreak and one due to bad weather.
Therefore, these games need to be rearranged and being in the European competition would’ve made that a lot harder, whereas there are now some midweek gaps in Tottenham’s schedule.
There will also likely be some weeks where Spurs now only have to play once, which gives Conte extra time on the training pitch to work with his new group of players.
As 2022 approaches, it will be a busy final five months of the season for the Italian but also a crucial one where he will learn a lot about his squad and then what business needs to be done in upcoming transfer windows.
In that season the Blues won the league with Conte, they lost just five games, the same amount Spurs have already lost this season.
With the quality that Chelsea, Liverpool and Man City seem to have this season, it is very unlikely anyone will knock them out of the top three this campaign.
However, once the 52-year-old has got some fresh faces in at N17 and developed the players he has already got, Spurs’ hopes of silverware could become a reality and it could be a big second half to the season for the Lilywhites.
There have already been improvements seen both on and off the pitch and with the low value that many gave to the Conference League, it may not be a bad thing that they have been forced out of it.