Tottenham Hotspur suffering humiliating nights in Europe has become quite a familiar theme for the club and its enduring fanbase.
For a side that were 90 minutes away from being crowned European champions in 2019, it’s been some decline following their latest humbling on the continent in a 2-1 defeat at Slovenian minnows Mura in the Europa Conference League.
Previously, such embarrassments since 2019 against Bayern Munich, Dinamo Zagreb and Vitesse Arnhem have been placed at the feet of managers including Mauricio Pochettino, Jose Mourinho and Nuno Espirito Santo respectively.
But with new boss Antonio Conte in, and firmly backed by the board and supporters, there is now nowhere left to hide for the north London side’s underperforming flops.
Conte managed to show an impressively calm demeanour in his post-match interview, but his words were scathing as he put many of his side on notice.
Tottenham Hotspur were left humiliated again following a 2-1 loss at Slovenian minnows Mura
He said: ‘I must be honest and tell you that after three-and-a-half weeks, I am starting to understand the situation. I can tell you that the situation is not simple.
‘It is not simple because in this moment for sure the level of Tottenham is not so high.
‘After three-and-a-half weeks, I am happy to stay here but at the same time I must be honest and tell you we need to work a lot to improve the quality of the (current) squad.
‘If someone thinks that a new coach arrives and Conte won in the past and then I am a magician. But the only magic I can do is to work. To bring work and work to improve, to bring my methods, my ideas of football. But we have to understand that we need time.’
With an overhaul potentially looming at Tottenham, who will Conte rely on going forward, who is he already likely to ditch and who are facing their last chances to rescue their Spurs careers?
Sportsmail looks at every single Tottenham first-team player and assesses their possible future under the Italian.
New Spurs boss Antonio Conte admitted after the game he will need to improve his failing side
The Tottenham captain is already playing under his sixth manager (including the interim tenure of Ryan Mason) and as he prepares to mark a decade at the club next year, has been one of their most important stars.
Yet the France goalkeeper has also not been at his best for many seasons now and at 35-years-old next month is also out of contract at the end of the campaign.
However, there is no urgent need to get rid of Lloris and there are far more pressing concerns for the club when it comes to overhauling the first team. But would Lloris even agree to a new deal?
Signed on loan from Atalanta, Gollini has previous in English football having also played for Aston Villa in the Championship.
However, the former Manchester United youngster fell out of favour at Villa Park and since joining Spurs has been used for League Cup and Conference League fixtures.
There’s little to suggest that the 26-year-old Italian has made much improvement, and with a £15million option to buy and homegrown quotas for Spurs to be concerned about, making this move permanent is unlikely to be in their interest.
Pierluigi Gollini has offered little in the way of competition to No 1 Hugo Lloris while on loan
It’s just not happened for Doherty at Tottenham. Signed as a much-needed right-back last season by Jose Mourinho from Wolves, the Portuguese soon realised that the Republic of Ireland international wasn’t a comfortable fit in a four-man defensive system.
However, even if he plays as a wing-back in a back five he has still struggled to display any signs of quality during his 18 months at the club.
While his defensive attributes were a known weakness, the promise of being a useful attacking outlet have also failed to come through and he now looks a liability rather than an asset to the side.
Started very brightly under Mourinho last season but the attacking left-back has failed to kick on in north London, and was one of the players caught breaking Covid protocols last Christmas.
However, he is still the club’s best full-back, especially going forward, and he hasn’t started life too badly under Antonio Conte, scoring his first goal for Spurs last weekend against Leeds United.
More coaching needs to be done to the defensive side of his game – and that’s where Conte comes in – but for now the 24-year-old has earned the right to stay on.
Sergio Reguilon has stumbled at Spurs but finally scored his first goal for the club last week
Tottenham’s transfer policy has been nothing but chaotic in the last five years, so it’s no surprise that one of their highlight summer signings in Romero has had a tricky start at the club.
Joining from Atalanta on a £45million deal, although for now he is officially on loan, the 23-year-old has not helped shore up an already calamitous backline with a few nervy performances of his own.
The Argentina international though has shown promise in a few of his displays and although he is now out injured with a hamstring injury, there are still high hopes he can develop into a leading centre-back at the club. He’s safe for now.
Before Romero, there was Sanchez who was Mauricio Pochettino’s big summer signing in 2017 at a then club record £42million from Ajax.
But after a steady first season at centre-back, the Colombia international seems to have plateaued at best and even regressed in his last three years.
Error prone and without a real command of the backline, he has not shown anything near the value of his transfer fee and was turned inside out by Mura in the shocking Conference League defeat. The end is nigh.
Davinson Sanchez has never looked like justifying his once club record purchase of £42m
By default, Emerson is Tottenham’s best right-back but that’s no real claim when the Brazilian’s only real competition is the struggling Doherty.
Although a 22-year-old summer signing from Barcelona, he has looked weak, especially defensively, in his appearances for Spurs so far and his best performances have been on account of him making no mistakes rather than contributing to much of Spurs’ play.
However, the Brazil international has only just moved to England with little understanding of English so it’s far too soon to place him on the flop pile. He deserves at the very least the rest of the season to adapt to Conte and settle in north London – especially with no other natural right-backs.
A Pochettino disciple who has been with the club since 2014 and continues to feature in the first team at centre-back having briefly played as a defensive midfielder.
One thing Dier doesn’t lack is commitment, and that will put him in Conte’s good books. But there is a blunder reel of errors and mistakes from the former England international and it’s hard to see him improve to the levels Spurs need to perform at to get back to challenging for a Champions League place.
There is no urgent need to get rid, but his Spurs career is far from secure and he is playing for his future.
VERDICT: Last chance saloon
Eric Dier’s work rate will be valued by Antonio Conte but his errors can prove costly
Mourinho wanted Milan Skriniar from Inter Milan, instead he was delivered Joe Rodon from Championship side Swansea as part of Spurs’ effort to rebuild the defence last term.
Rodon hasn’t been that bad for Spurs and the Wales international has made 14 steady appearances.
But he has never been given a run in the team, either by Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo and, early on, Conte too.
That’s three managers already who think there are better options to play at the back, and that’s a worrying sign for the 24-year-old given the sorry state Tottenham’s defence is in.
VERDICT: Last chance saloon
The left-back has been at Spurs since 2014 and while he has never been relied upon for his attacking output, had for a long time been a reliable defensive outlet who could also move into a three-man central defence.
Around 2018 he was even getting game time ahead of a peak Danny Rose but the Wales international is no longer the safe pair of hands.
It’s hard to see him offering what Conte will want from his Spurs revolution and it may be time to move on.
Spurs need more from their left-backs under Conte and that could spell the end of Ben Davies
Given his debut by Mourinho, there was high promise that the defender could become an important member of the Spurs backline, especially with his versatility to play either in the centre or on the right.
There have been notable excellent displays including the win over Manchester City at the start of the season from the 22-year-old academy graduate
However like Dier, his consistency is questionable and while he has more breathing space at the club he will have to improve his form to secure his long term future.
Verdict: Last chance saloon
Industrial and a battler, the Danish midfielder is the bite of the Spurs midfield but he is also the fall guy as having to be the replacement for Mousa Dembele.
It’s an impossible task given the Belgian’s command on the ball was close to unmatchable in the Premier League and Hojbjerg doesn’t have the same attributes, and can be found shirking away from possession.
While he may be a downgrade on Dembele following his 2020 arrival from Southampton, he is arguably the best midfielder at the club and if Conte sticks around he will need Hojbjerg to do likewise for now.
After breaking into the Spurs team from the academy in 2016, Winks started life as a useful central midfielder and impressed to the point he could be relied on in games as demanding as those against Real Madrid – where in 2017 he starred against the then European champions in the group stage.
At Spurs he has earned ten England caps but his form has disintegrated since then and as a result was soon dropped from the first team by Mourinho and hasn’t earned his place back.
Lightweight in the middle, limited attacking distribution and weak defensively, his days look numbered in north London.
Harry Winks has struggled to make a positive impact on the Tottenham team in recent seasons
Giovani Lo Celso
There was a lot of hope among supporters when the Argentine arrived in the summer of 2019 from Real Betis for a fee of around £27million.
The 25-year-old has a reputation of being a silky playmaker with an eye for goal, and had seemed a perfect fit to replace Christian Eriksen who was heading for a Spurs exit.
Injuries hampered his first season at the club, but when he did play there were signs of encouragement he could kick on and play crucial role. Two years after joining he is still hampered by injuries and when he does play he remains largely anonymous anyway. Time is ticking for a player who in 53 Premier League games has just one goals and three assists. Eriksen he is not.
Verdict: Last chance saloon
The biggest enigma at Tottenham right now. Dele was undroppable from Spurs after completing his switch from MK Dons in 2015, becoming a key player for the next three years – making his £5million transfer fee look like a bargain.
But long before his sharp decline under Mourinho, he had shown a severe loss of form in Pochettino’s final year in charge before his 2019 sacking.
The goals have dried up, and these days it’s hard to know where his best position is, let alone what he actually contributes. A former England starter, he isn’t even anywhere near the squad these days and his time at Spurs is almost certainly up, and he will need to depart to save his sinking football career.
Dele Alli has gone from a key player for Spurs and England to a forgotten man at both
In a case of unfortunate timing, the left-sided player talked up trying to kick on his Spurs career having flopped since his £25million arrival from Fulham in 2019.
His first act since then was to be sent off in the first half of the catastrophic defeat at Mura. Pochettino, Mourinho nor Nuno fancied him in the first-team having made just six league appearances and since joining he has even spent time out on loan a Hoffenheim last term.
Fighting to save his Spurs career, he may have already blown it with his needless red card in Europe on Thursday.
Verdict: Last chance saloon
Tottenham’s poster boy… for their total inability to navigate the transfer market in the last half-decade. There is a talented player in Ndombele, he is probably the best footballer at the club even, given his strength and prowess to pick out a pass.
It’s no use though if you can’t put in more than an hour’s graft and his fitness levels have long been questionable since signing for a club record £55million from Lyon in 2019.
It makes you wonder how on earth this aspect of his game was not looked at when he joined a Pochettino side famed for its high fitness demands. Conte’s similar workloads mean Spurs will now likely be looking to cut their losses for a player who since joining has looked totally uninterested in the team.
While arguably the best technically, Tanguy Ndombele’s poor fitness will not work under Conte
Looked a steady if unspectacular defensive midfielder in his early days under Pochettino after coming through the academy system.
However, signs of promise flickered last term after an excellent season on loan at Norwich City to earn them Premier League promotion as champions and he featured in the Championship team of the year.
Now back at Spurs though there has been little sign of significant improvement. However, the 21-year-old has time on his side and he could benefit from Conte’s coaching. In a circus of a midfield, he is the least of the club’s problems.
Tottenham’s biggest dilemma. On the one hand, they have the England captain and a proven world class goal scorer who has been terrorising Premier League defenders for years.
On the other, they have a 28-year-old scarred from constant Spurs failures who wanted to leave in the summer, has just one Premier League goal less than a month until Christmas and has been poor throughout much of the season.
So Conte has a big choice. Do Spurs sell Kane while they can still command a high fee for a striker not showing much worth and wants to leave, or do they try and get him firing again and lead the revolution? Spurs need a desperate rebuild and they don’t have much sellable assets. If his form doesn’t improve, Conte’s choice may become much easier – especially if he could potentially recoup around £100million.
Verdict: Last chance saloon
Harry Kane’s form has dipped alarmingly this term as Spurs look to potentially cash in
Involved in a swap deal with Sevilla at the start of the season that saw Erik Lamela depart in the opposite direction plus a £21million fee.
In the short term, Spurs have lost out. Lamela was a versatile midfielder and forward who while limited was a very useful member of the squad. Gil by contrast is struggling to command a first-team spot despite being capped four times by Spain this year.
He is though still 21 years old and patience will be given to the winger to adapt at Spurs under Conte, despite his very low key start where aside from the odd daring dribble down the left flank has not shown much to justify any early hype.
The new fan favourite at Tottenham and even though he can frustrate with his inconsistency, is right now irreplaceable for Spurs.
Arguably the club’s overall best player and having just signed a new contract at the start of the season, he too has no desire to depart a sinking ship.
Conte needs to build his Spurs side around someone and there is no better candidate than the South Korean forward.
Son Heung-min is the new fan favourite at Spurs and will be the first name on the team sheet
Moura will always have credit in the bank with Tottenham fans given his incredible hat-trick to help Spurs defeat Ajax in the 2019 Champions League semi-final.
But even the most ardent of backers for the Brazilian will have to admit that his part in a Spurs future is not entirely clear. While quick on the ball, his lack of positional sense can be quite alarming in the Premier League, where he now hasn’t scored since February.
While there is no doubting his work rate, he will have to start showing more output to remain part of the Spurs set-up.
Verdict: Last chance saloon
The forward who cannot score, which makes it seem even weirder that he marked his Spurs debut with a supreme volley against Manchester City to net in a memorable win in 2020.
Since then the Holland international has scored just three times in his following 59 games – and once in the last 17 months.
At £27million from PSV Eindhoven it looks like yet another transfer that Spurs are unlikely to see any sort of profit from.
Steven Bergwijn’s lack of goals is likely going to count against him under Conte’s plans
Clarke was signed as a promising winger from Leeds in the summer of 2019 for £10million and the best way to sum up the 21-year-old’s progress since is that he is still yet to make his Premier League debut.
Low stakes cup matches have been Clarke’s only appearances and even in those he has failed to convince Spurs managers including Pochettino, Mourinho and Nuno that he was worth much more.
Poor loans in the Championship have not helped his cause and already there seems to be no way back for the winger in north London.