Cristian Stellini can lift gloom at Tottenham by getting fans off their seats with exciting football – but will he? | The Sun
CRISTIAN STELLINI has an open goal to win over the Tottenham fans during his temporary stint – by making them fall in love with football again.
But based on the interim boss’ comments – and the drab performance at Everton on Monday – the fear is the North Londoners will remain as dull to watch as they were under Antonio Conte.
Spurs supporters were often left bored by the fare served up by defensive-minded Conte this season.
At their best under the ex-Chelsea chief, at the back end of last term, Spurs could be exhilarating on the counter-attack, if happy to surrender possession.
But there was no repeat of that during this campaign which is why many supporters were happy to see the back of hothead Conte when he left during the international break.
His assistant Stellini was given the reins for the final ten games of the campaign and fans were hoping he would release the shackles a bit to get them off their seats.
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Yet a warning sign that that would be unlikely to happen came in his first press conference as No1 on Friday.
He was asked if he would make the team more attacking as many fans had complained of the team being boring to watch under Conte.
Stellini disagreed and even claimed there had been “many matches the fans enjoyed a lot” this season.
What games he was referring to, from a purely entertainment perspective, is anyone’s guess.
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Because you can count on one hand how many times Spurs have objectively been good to watch this term.
February’s 1-0 win over Manchester City was impressive, as were the home victories over Chelsea and West Ham that month.
All three saw Stellini in the dugout while Conte was back in Italy recovering from gallbladder surgery, it should be added.
But thrilling stuff, the kind Tottenham fans associate with their club historically? Perhaps September’s 2-1 win over Fulham, a scoreline that massively flattered Marco Silva’s side, is the pick of a limited bunch.
You certainly could not put in Monday’s draw at Goodison Park, which was hugely reminiscent of the Conte days.
Spurs were handed the victory on a plate when Abdoulaye Doucoure crazily slapped Harry Kane was sent off, before Michael Keane needlessly brought down Cristian Romero in the box, allowing Kane to score from the penalty spot.
But then Stellini’s men went into their shells, just as they did in Conte’s final game at Southampton, and conceded a last-minute leveller through Keane’s wonder goal.
Yet should it be all that surprising that the performance level was basically the same as under Conte?
After all, Spurs have put his right-hand man in charge, someone who appears to share the pragmatic outlook to his former boss on the way to win football matches.
It has proven to be effective, and could get Tottenham to the top four which is the ultimate goal now and more important in the short-term to the powers-that-be than entertainment.
Daniel Levy has gambled on the continuity of sticking with Stellini to take them there.
Moura so sorry for lunge
LUCAS MOURA has said sorry for his horror tackle on Michael Keane which saw him earn a straight red in the final minutes of Monday’s draw at Everton.
The Brazilian, 30, wrote on Instagram: "No one is more frustrated than me. I made a mistake and I accept that. I am not this kind of player and I didn't mean to do that.
"Sometimes for the sake of milliseconds, something totally different happens than what you planned.
"I want to apologise to my team-mates, the staff, the fans and the club. I will keep working hard to help the team as much as I can until my last day at the club."
Captain Hugo Lloris spelled out the merits of having a caretaker boss who is already au fait with the squad and the club.
The Frenchman said: "Cristian knows very well the players, he knows the club well. He's just here to give continuity and try to finish the job as good as we can.
“It is also the responsibility of everyone. It's players, coaching staff, medical staff, all the people involved to create the right energy.
"There are still nine games ahead of us. It's going to be difficult for all teams involved and we have to finish strong. And the key is consistency.”
Reach the top four by any means and Stellini will have done his job.
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But he will earn a place in the hearts of Tottenham supporters if he brings back the fun.
With back-to-back home games against Brighton and Bournemouth coming up, now seems as good a time as any to attempt to do so.
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