Nicol praises Antonio Conte and Richarlison after Tottenham win
Steve Nicol has lauded both Richarlison and Antonio Conte after a turbulent week at Tottenham Hotspur, telling ESPN that the way the Italian handled the forward was perfect.
All eyes were on Conte’s team selection for Saturday’s clash with Nottingham Forest. Spurs had a point to prove after their abject performance against AC Milan in the week.
Richarlison, of course, gave an interview after the game in which he hit out at how little he has played this season. And Conte did not pull many punches in his subsequent press conference, suggesting that the Brazilian had not been good enough.
Nicol praises Conte and Richarlison
With both men fiery characters, it was hard to know what would happen next. And yet, there was little surprise when Richarlison was named in the starting lineup against Forest. It was only his eighth league start of the campaign.
The decision was vindicated in some style. Tottenham won 3-1 against Steve Cooper’s side. And Richarlison was excellent.
He had a goal controversially ruled out for offside. But he went on to set up one for Son Heung-min. And he will surely get the chance to keep his place in the weeks ahead.
Nicol was asked about how Conte handled the situation after being publicly called out. And he was full of praise for the Tottenham boss.
“Perfect. Absolutely. ‘Go on then. You told me you should be playing. Go on then, you better play well’. Richarlison’s gone: ‘Right, I’m going to show him’. And in Conte’s head, he’s going: ‘Right, go on then. Show me. And if you don’t, I can go, hey, you were the one who wanted to play, you were the one who said this’. So it’s a winner all the way round. It’s a great decision,” he told ESPN.
“How many players do that? Richarlison’s wiring a little different. It’s not normal. And sometimes it happens. And this is the perfect cure for it. They both win.”
Conte has form for dealing with some of these incidents well. He was involved in a spat with Lautaro Martinez during his time at Inter Milan after substituting the forward. But rather than punish the Argentinian, Conte ended up taking part in a pretend boxing match with Martinez on the training ground.
He understands better than anyone how emotions can take over in football, particularly in the moments after a game. All it can take is for a certain question to be asked a certain way, and Richarlison suddenly felt that the time was right to get a few things off of his chest.
You would imagine that some tough conversations were had behind the scenes. But that may ultimately help both Conte and Richarlison.
Certainly, Saturday proved to be a much better day for Tottenham. It is something to potentially build from.
And Richarlison may be hoping that he is now at the heart of Spurs’ plans moving forward.