Tottenham Hotspur made a number of impressive signings over the course of the summer transfer window, with the club’s sporting director, Fabio Paratici, adding the likes of Ivan Perisic, Richarlison, Yves Bissouma, Djed Spence and Clement Lenglet to Antonio Conte’s first-team squad prior to the closure of the market on September 1.
However, while a number of these fresh faces have already started to impress under the management of the 52-year-old Italian, there is perhaps one summer addition who has had an even greater impact on the Tottenham Hotspur side than any of the aforementioned players – that of 69-year-old coach Gianni Vio.
Indeed, over the course of Spurs’ 38 Premier League fixtures last season, Conte’s outfit scored just eight goals from set-pieces – with only Manchester United (seven), Watford (six) and Norwich City (three) managing fewer goals from dead balls than the Lilywhites in the 2021/22 campaign.
In comparison, the three sides who finished above Tottenham in the top flight last season, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea, scored 21, 19 and 11 goals from set-plays respectively last time out, while fifth-placed Arsenal also found the back of the net 16 times from dead-ball scenarios – demonstrating just how far behind Spurs were from their biggest league rivals.
As such, it was no surprise to see Conte attempt to address this shortcoming over the summer, with the 52-year-old appointing set-piece coach Vio – who is rumoured to have mastered 4,830 different dead-ball routines – to his backroom staff in July.
And, to say that the Italian manager hit the jackpot in his move for the former Azzurri national team coach would be something of an understatement, as Tottenham’s transformation in attacking set-plays has been nothing short of extraordinary since his arrival in north London.
Indeed, of the 18 goals Spurs have scored over their seven Premier League fixtures so far this season, five have come from dead-balls – currently ranking Tottenham first for set-piece goals in 2022/23 – including the winner in a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers and two in the club’s 6-2 win over Leicester City on Saturday.
Vio’s impact has not gone unnoticed by the playing staff either, with Dejan Kulusevski heaping praise on the Italian coach following the win over Wolves back in August, stating (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.”
As such, it is no wonder why Italian football expert James Horncastle dubbed Vio a “secret weapon,” as the 69-year-old has already proven exactly this for Conte and his Tottenham side so far this season.