Tottenham Hotspur’s sporting director, Fabio Paratici, made a number of signings during the summer transfer window, including Ivan Perisic, Richarlison, Yves Bissouma, Djed Spence, and Clement Lenglet.
And while some of the new signings are slowly starting to make an impact, there is one particular summer acquisition who has made the greatest impact on the Spurs side. It’s the hiring of a set-piece specialist coach, Gianni Vio.
Gianni Vio has previously worked for the Italian national team, AC Milan, Fiorentina, and Leeds, among others. He was dubbed as the ‘the little wizard’ for the role he played for Catania in the 08/09 season where they scored 17 goals from 44 set pieces.
He was also a key member of Roberto Mancini’s Italy team that won Euro 2020 last summer, where they famously scored from a corner to equalise against England in the final before winning on penalties. Vio was credited with devising 4,830 different set-piece scenarios for the Italians to work on. (via Squawka)
Prior to his signing, in the last 38 games last season, Spurs only scored 8 goals from set pieces. In comparison, the three teams that finished above Tottenham in the Premier League last season, Manchester City, Liverpool, and Chelsea, scored 21, 19, and 11 goals from set-plays, respectively, while fifth-placed Arsenal also scored 16 times from set pieces, demonstrating how far Spurs trailed their main rivals. (via WhoScored)
As a result, it is not surprising to see why Conte decided to hire the specialist in order to try and address this shortcoming over the summer. And to say the appointment has been anything short of masterstroke would be an understatement.
Spurs have been incredible in attacking set-plays this season. Tottenham currently ranked joint-top of the goals scored from set-pieces this season with 5 goals from 18 scored in the league all coming from dead-balls matched with Liverpool and Arsenal.
Vio’s influence at Tottenham has already been noted by Kane and Dejan Kulusevski, and even when Conte’s team does not score from set-pieces, the improvements are visible to all.
After Spurs scored the winner against Wolves which came from a set-piece, Kulusevski said (via FourFourTwo):
“I just told him three times that we have to give him more money. He has to get a pay rise for sure! Shoutout to him. He’s very important. He makes a difference, as you can see. At the end of the day, we won on a set piece so we have to keep working on that. It’s not the funnest thing in the world but it makes results. It helps a lot.
“Three games, three goals [from set pieces] I think, so we have to keep listening to him and do what he says. I don’t remember that we scored so many [from set pieces] last season but it’s very important. Now we have to get better. Every time we get a set piece we have to believe we can score.”
It’s no surprise that Vio has been dubbed a “secret weapon” by Italian football expert James Horncastle, as the 69-year-old has already proven this for Conte and his Tottenham team this season.