Tottenham assistant Cristian Stellini is again without Antonio Conte but knows he can count on Ryan Mason for Sunday’s visit of West Ham.
Conte is back in Italy under doctors orders to rest after rushing his return from gallbladder surgery to be on the touchline for defeats at Leicester and AC Milan.
It was Conte’s number two Stellini who led the team to a memorable victory over Manchester City earlier this month but he was quick to praise the support of first-team coach Mason, who had a seven-game spell as Spurs’ caretaker boss in 2021.
Get well soon, Antonio 💙 pic.twitter.com/pYPLxLwdrw
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) February 16, 2023
Mason’s presence was also talked up by Stellini when they combined to help Tottenham win in Marseille with suspended Conte in the stand and the duo will aim to secure more success this weekend.
Asked if Mason could become a manager, Stellini insisted: “Yeah I think so.
“He is young, he needs time and experience but probably I am not the right person to give him suggestions because he has studied a lot and he wants to improve.
“He has a good character to be a coach and to lead a club, but he needs experience like everyone.
“I think one of the best skills for a coach is clarity. To not create confusion, so he has many details, many ideas, many players to make a choice and to filter all this is an important skill.
“Ryan has the character and this type of skill and I think this is an important skill for a great coach.”
Stellini explained on Friday how Conte’s coaching staff were making decisions as a collective in the absence of their manager.
Team selection will be a similar process and the form of Son Heung-min, who has only scored in four matches all season, could result in a change in attack.
“We have experience with Sonny, we have experience with Richarlison, we have experience with Deki Kulusevski from the bench and they change the game,” Stellini said.
“This is normal and it is normal for everyone, not because you have an important player he has to play compulsory.
“If he needs to play sometimes, also he needs to rest because we have a tough fixture (list). We have a tough moment and we play many times. Sometimes you have to change the player and also to (help them) perform better.”
What Spurs will not tinker with – despite their inconsistent form – is Conte’s favoured 3-4-3 formation, even though injuries leave them with only one left-wing-back option but six attacking players.
Stellini added: “I don’t know if you’re thinking to change to a back four (but) we have only two or three full-backs.
“Nothing changed, this is our shape. It’s not about the strikers you have. We have the same full-backs and the same wing-backs.
“We have to adapt at the moment and probably in the future some players will have to play in a position they are not usually used in and we will do this, accept this and we will work with the players to be at their best.”