Antonio Conte says Son Heung-min has to get used to rotation
Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte said Monday that all Spurs players have to accept that they will now be part of a rotation, including forwards Son Heung-min, Harry Kane, Richarlison and Dejan Kulusevski.
Talking to reporters ahead of a Champions League clash with Sporting Lisbon, Conte was asked whether Son, who has failed to score in seven appearances with Tottenham so far this season, needs to prepare himself for the possibility that he could be rotated.
“I think when you try to build something important, when you try to build something with ambition and try to be competitive and fight to win, you have to change old habits,” Conte said, “otherwise it means you want to stay in balance and it means you don’t want to have ambition.
“For this reason all the players have to accept the rotation, especially up front, we have four players. For me especially it’s very difficult right now to drop one of these four players, but I have to make the best decision for the team, also for the players. Sometimes it’s better to rest and don’t start a game, to come in and play only 20 or 30 minutes and then play the following games.”
Conte’s comments were seen by some as a warning to Son, who’s form has been questionable so far this season after winning the Premier League’s Golden Boot last season. During the last campaign, Conte had said he would be mad to rotate Son out of the squad, an opinion that he clearly does not share any longer.
But, after a very busy summer, Conte now has far more options to play with across the pitch. Rotating his attacking line is far more of an option now, with both Richarlison and Kulusevski on board, than it was at the start of the year. With all four forwards proving to be a threat in front of goal, Conte’s decision to make full use of the available resources makes sense.
Son is also often said to be one of the hardest-working players in football, traveling tens of thousands of miles every year to balance club and national team commitments and taking no real opportunity to rest over the summer.
That non-stop schedule could also explain his lack of success so far this season. Premier League pundits have already begun to question whether Son has been unable to produce so far because he has not had time to rest and recuperate from the last campaign and a busy summer.
“The old habit was that the players were used to playing in every game,” Conte said. “What happened in this type of situation is that you don’t have great possibilities to win. You try to make the players happy, but big clubs have a big squad, a deep squad.
“In this moment we don’t have a big squad but we have just started to try to follow this path. For this reason, what happens with one of these four players will be normal and you have to know it’s good for a coach like me to have these options.”
BY JIM BULLEY [firstname.lastname@example.org]