sie in the Slovenian elite. One wins 11 games. Without ever a single point in European competition. Not even existing the last time Tottenham won a trophy.
No matter how you dress it, it was a giant murder of truly monstrous proportions, the Europa Conference League genre wasn’t really designed to throw up, but that leaves Tottenham’s future in. embarrassing third-level club competition in Europe.
After finding tougher-than-expected clients at Vitesse Arnhem and Rennes, Ten-a-side Spurs hit a new low on their travels on Thursday night, as Amadej Marosa’s latest deflected kick earned NS Mura a victory 2-1, the most famous in their history, and ended the hopes of Antonio Conte’s side of reaching the round of 16 directly, the novelty of a knockout game now the best that they can hope on the other side of Christmas.
Conte’s first European away game in charge was touted as an opportunity for Tottenham to build on their first league win under the new boss, against Leeds on Sunday, and a chance for a second string being treated as outcasts virtual sometimes by Nuno Espirito Santo to reintegrate and impress.
Nowhere was the sense of missed opportunity more prevalent than at the back – ironically, the area of the pitch where Spurs are expected to thrive under Conte. The 52-year-old’s appointment was said to have handed a lifeline to Ryan Sessegnon and Matt Doherty, who, through lack of form and fitness, had become forgotten men under the previous regime.
Conte had spoken of Sessegnon’s chances of a late start to his Spurs career in a position he is sure the 21-year-old will be best, while Doherty hoped to spark a renaissance by returning to the role that spawned the best football in the world. his career. among Wolves.
But, where two nights ago Chelsea full-backs played a masterpiece on Europe’s biggest stage, Tottenham’s liners have chosen the city of Maribor as the setting for a tragicomedy.
Sessegnon was the protagonist, his red card after just over half an hour for two thoughtless challenges turning Spurs’ task in trying to come back from Tomi Horvat’s opening goal from an inconvenience into a major undertaking.
Sessegnon spoke ahead of this game of being inspired by Reece James and Ben Chilwell’s performances across London at Stamford Bridge, their start-of-season goals and assists numbers representing a plan for a player who has already found the next 15 times in a season championship for Fulham.
But even during his 32 minutes on the pitch, Sessegnon’s offensive threat was limited to a tame effort, deflected from a Harry Kane layoff as the unbalanced third, with the abyssal Davinson Sanchez playing as a right foot on his left, struggled to feed him high on the wing.
More often than not, Spurs’ attacks have descended on the opposite flank, where Doherty played an unhappy cameo, full of heavy touches and dismal deliveries, before being put out of his misery as one of the four players took off. made a quadruple substitution shortly after half-time. time.
A total of eight players were making their first starts under Conte and none can hope to play Burnley on Sunday. Indeed, many are perhaps waiting for the final – now pivotal – of the group match against Rennes for their next opening. Sessegnon’s suspension even means that he will be overtaken.
A step back for Kane
Harry Kane’s cool finish, who until the end of stoppage time seemed to save the point that would have, somewhat unduly, kept Spurs’ hopes of finishing at the top of the group, brought his total of goals for the season to 18 for the club and the country. That’s the positives out of the way.
After revising his best by plundering seven goals in two games for England during the international break, Kane went on to produce one of his most encouraging Spurs performances of the season despite not being scored. on the scoresheet against Leeds, but it was a step backwards, one of the frustrated and lackluster performances more like those that populated Nuno Espirito Santo’s reign.
Of the English captain’s 18 goals so far this season, 14 have been against Mura, Pacos de Ferreira, San Marino, Andorra or Albania. It will be some time before he faces this level of opposition again and with a checkered match list ahead, Conte desperately needs that last night off to prove an anomaly in the post-era era. Nuno, rather than a return to type.