Antonio Conte backs ‘suffering’ Tottenham star Heung-min Son as new-season struggles continue

·4-min read
Heung-min Son has endured a difficult start to the new season with Tottenham  (REUTERS)
Heung-min Son has endured a difficult start to the new season with Tottenham (REUTERS)

Antonio Conte joked that "sensible" Heung-min Son would make a good husband for his daughter as the Tottenham head coach defended the South Korean again following Sunday's 2-0 win over Nottingham Forest.

Conte admitted that Son is "suffering" after last season's Golden Boot winner was frustrated in front of goal again at the City Ground, as Harry Kane scored in each half and missed a penalty to continue Spurs' fine start to the season.

Son has not scored in his opening four matches of the campaign and was outshone by Kane, Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison at Forest, but Conte says he will also be a key part of his side.

"Sonny is a really sensible player," Conte said afterwards. "He's really sensible and a top man, a really good guy.

"If I am to give an example, I have to find a husband for my daughter I'd like to be a person like him!

"In this moment maybe he's suffering a lot that he's not scoring. But he has to continue in this way and trust himself because in every game he has the opportunity, the chance to score and then he has to be calm. We trust him and the team-mates.

“You know very well the importance of this player with Harry Kane and for sure he's a bit disappointed that he's not scoring but no problem. For me, Sonny will always be a nut in my team, in my ambition of football."

Spurs were second best for long periods against Steve Cooper's newly-promoted side but their quality in the final third told, with Kane finishing from brilliant assists from Kulusevski and substitute Richarlison.

"I think we deserved to win," Conte said. "It was a difficult game. It was the first time [playing Forest] and I was really surprised to listen to a lot of noise around the stadium and the pitch, and the Nottingham Forest fans pushed the team a lot. But at the same time I think we were good to overcome the moments that we suffered.

"I think in the second half we improved a lot because in the first half we didn't use a lot our midfielders, and we wanted to go in one side, another side, it was easier for Forest to put pressure and to make us feel a bit insecure.

"The second half we had the chances to score the second goal. We could have scored the third goal with the penalty, but honestly I don't think he missed it. I think it was a really good save. The keeper was incredible. It's not easy to come here and get three points."

Son's position may now be at risk from Richarlison, who assisted Kane's second goal with a brilliant outside-of-the-boot cross.

The Brazilian also incurred the wrath of the Forest supporters for juggling the ball in the 88th minute as the clock ran down, prompting Brennan Johnson to clatter him and earn a booking.

"He juggled with the ball," Conte said. "It is a game and you are under pressure. I repeat it is OK. I don't think Richy wanted to show disrespect to Nottingham Forest. Forest are a really good team with a great history in football and we have a great respect. Richy for sure thinks in the same way. Not disrespectful for anyone and I can tell you this."

The Spurs head coach also took aim at the Premier League over Spurs' schedule, with his side now facing London derbies against West Ham on Wednesday and Fulham on Saturday.

"I was very clear with my players and now we have three days to recover before the game against West Ham," the Italian said.

"And then after Wednesday night we are going to play Saturday. I think we are the only team in the top six to play three games in six days. I don't want to complain, as I've said in the past. But I think this time we were unlucky and I hope the next time someone else will be unlucky like us and not always Tottenham. I want to underline this."