Daily Mail

Revved-up Richarliso­n is perfect tonic for Spurs after troubled week

- LEWIS STEELE at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

AS HE wheeled away to celebrate his first Premier League goal for the club, Richarliso­n put a finger to his lips to shush the fans and perhaps his manager. He was soon silenced by the VAR ghouls. So the wait goes on for the £60million Brazilian: 18 league games, zero goals. That, to use his own phrase, is a ‘s*** season’. His manager Antonio Conte famously agrees.

But even from a rushed highlights package on BBC, Richarliso­n’s impact on this team was clear. If they could not give you the analysis on a fine display, we will.

After his disallowed goal, he aided the build-up to Harry Kane’s opener, cleverly won the penalty for the England captain’s second and then assisted Son Heung-min for the third. He had 41 touches, more than any attacker on the pitch, and created danger across the attack by popping up in central areas to supplement Kane, and giving compatriot Renan Lodi, the Forest left back, his toughest afternoon in English football. Richarliso­n is keen to receive the ball on the half-turn and his clever movement allowed Kane more freedom to roam into central areas. One reservatio­n this season has been his unwillingn­ess to make penetrativ­e runs in behind defenders but, after just three minutes, he zoomed past Felipe and finished well. Just like at the City Ground when he took his shirt off, Richarliso­n wheeled off in an animated celebratio­n to toast his first league goal — only to be denied by VAR. To use a slang word, it is a very ‘Spursy’ scenario: player calls out the manager, who bites back but starts him. Player scores after three minutes and shushes the coach… but it is ruled out. Asked for a verdict on Richarliso­n’s performanc­e, Conte said: ‘He played really well, he didn’t score.’

Short, sweet but a lot nicer than what he said last week after Spurs went out of the Champions League to AC Milan.

The Italian has a selection headache on either side of Kane. Dejan Kulusevski is one of the Premier League’s most underrated players but is perhaps not at his best right now.

Arnaut Danjuma has played just 11 league minutes after joining in January — another deal that must be scrutinise­d when we assess the work of director of football Fabio Paratici at the club. Richarliso­n offers something different and Kane seemed to enjoy his presence. After a tough week, this was just the tonic for Spurs. It was also a pleasing afternoon for Son, who is now on 99 Premier League goals.

‘It was a really disappoint­ing week,’ said the South Korean. ‘We had to get out of this dark tunnel to make ourselves

stronger. Confidence can bring good vibes for the rest of the season.’

No such good vibes with the supporters though. Sportsmail spoke to a number of Spurs fans about their manager and the results were nearly unanimous. ‘I want him out now, I was here on Wednesday and I was soul-destroyed,’ said one gentleman.

‘He doesn’t want to be here so why should we want him?’ added another. ‘We might as well let him go — you wouldn’t keep a girlfriend if she wanted to leave!’

A more considered verdict came from another fan: ‘He’s too inflexible. His tactics don’t work. Sack him now. I don’t care who replaces him.’

Former Premier League star and Soccer AM presenter Jimmy Bullard summed up Conte in just one word. ‘Hopeless,’ he said, before jogging away laughing. TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR (3-4-3): Forster 7.5; Romero 6.5, Dier 6, Lenglet 6; Porro 7, Skipp 7.5 (Sarr 90+7min), Hojbjerg 7, Davies 6.5; RICHARLISO­N 8 (Kulusevski 84), Kane 7.5, Son 7 (Lucas 84). Scorers: Kane 19, 35 (pen), Son 62. Booked: Dier, Skipp, Hojbjerg. Manager: Antonio Conte 7. NOTTINGHAM FOREST (4-3-2-1): Navas 6; Aurier 5, Worrall 5, Felipe 4, Lodi 4; Freuler 5 (Yates 67, 6), Shelvey 6, Mangala 5 (Ayew 46, 5); Gibbs-White 5, Lingard 4 (Dennis 46, 5); Johnson 5 (Wood 67, 6; N Williams 73, 6). Scorer: Worrall. Booked: Lodi. Manager: Steve Cooper 5.

Referee: Craig Pawson 7.5.

Attendance: 61,460.

 ?? ?? « Big impact: Richarliso­n impressed for Spurs
« Big impact: Richarliso­n impressed for Spurs

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