On Wednesday evening Tottenham Hotspur travel away to Bramall Lane with a great chance of reaching the quarter-finals of the FA Cup. A victory over Sheffield United would move Spurs to within just two wins of a shot at their first piece of major silverware since 2008.
On paper, Sheffield United away is a relatively easy fixture, but the Blades have impressed in the Championship this season. Paul Heckingbottom’s team are second in the division and seven points, with a game in hand, above the playoff places. The Blades have won 11 of their 17 home matches this season, meaning the trip to South Yorkshire will be far from easy even if soccer betting sites see Spurs as big favorites.
This is not a fixture that should be taken lightly by Antonio Conte. However, since the Italian has been in N17, he is yet to show much interest in the two domestic cups. He oversaw Tottenham being dumped out of the FA Cup last season at the hands of Middlesbrough and then eliminated from the League Cup away at Nottingham Forest earlier this season. On both occasions, he fielded heavily rotated teams. On Wednesday, he simply cannot make the same mistake.
This season’s FA Cup represents a fantastic opportunity for Tottenham to end a 15-year trophy drought, and here’s why Conte and co must take full advantage.
Heading into the last 16, just nine Premier League teams remain. Two of the ties are all Premier League, meaning Spurs could be one of just seven or fewer top-flight clubs in the quarters.
Then, when you factor in Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea having all been knocked out of the competition already, Spurs really should fancy themselves as one of the favorites and are rightly seen as such by soccer betting apps.
Over the course of his managerial career, Antonio Conte has made it very clear that his sole interest in management is to be competing for major titles. Everywhere the Italian has gone, he’s been competitive, and when that stops, he leaves. When his title-winning Inter Milan side threatened to lower their ambitions by offloading one or two key players, he was not afraid to depart the Nerazzurri.
When the 53-year-old arrived at Tottenham, his appointment raised many eyebrows as to how Daniel Levy had managed to sweet talk him into managing the team. With Spurs renowned for being such a prudent club in the transfer market, it always seemed unlikely that they would be able to match his lofty ambitions. So far, Spurs have appeared a long way off being able to compete for the two biggest trophies in the Premier League and Champions League, but Conte needs to look at this season’s FA Cup as a chance at icon status.
Whilst this may not be a competition he strongly desires to win, securing Spurs their first piece of silverware after such a long time would be one of the greatest achievements of his career. Tottenham have long been ridiculed for a lack of trophies in modern times, so ending that drought would not only earn him the respect of the Spurs faithful but also many outsiders.
For Tottenham, over recent years, they’ve let several top managers go to waste. Mauricio Pochettino miraculously didn’t win anything, whilst for José Mourinho, Spurs will go down as the only club in his career with which he failed to win a trophy.
In Antonio Conte, Spurs have a coach who not only knows how to win trophies but specifically the FA Cup, having won it in 2018 with Chelsea. Failure to win a cup under yet another world-class manager would be a humiliation for the club.
Whilst cup success over the last decade has been non-existent in the white half of north London, Spurs have done an excellent job at keeping hold of their star men. Harry Kane, Hugo Lloris and Heung-min Son have become part of the furniture at Spurs. All three have done so much for the club but have nothing to show for their time in Lilywhite as far as silverware goes.
The FA Cup may not have the same meaning as it did when Spurs last won it back in 1991, but given the club’s rich history in the competition, watching this trio parade the cup down Tottenham High Road would be an incredibly special moment for the club’s supporters and players. For all Manchester United’s big stars, seeing their players jubilantly lifting the Carabao Cup last Sunday was a strong indicator of what these trophies still mean to the modern player.
Last week marked the 15th year since the club’s last cup success. That failure has been long hanging over the club’s head. It has certainly added to the pressure in these big cup semi-finals and finals that Spurs have fallen short in over recent times.
So, now is the moment to finally focus on one and make sure they get over the line this year. An FA Cup success this season would be a huge monkey off their backs and the potential catalyst for future success.
With Conte’s future very much in the air and Kane’s contract coming to an end, now is the moment to focus on ending this drought. Please, Antonio, take Wednesday seriously. From Spurs fans.