Antonio Conte delivers Tottenham fans ‘truth’ and makes top-four admission amid unrealistic expectations

Antonio Conte delivers Tottenham fans ‘truth’ and makes top-four admission amid unrealistic expectations

Antonio Conte has admitted that a top-four Premier League finish could prove an unrealistic expectation for Tottenham this season.

Spurs slipped out of Champions League places with a chastening 2-0 home defeat by Aston Villa, where Hugo Lloris and Harry Kane made costly mistakes leading to goals.

Emi Buendia and Douglas Luiz condemned Spurs to their fifth defeat of the league campaign, with Conte defending his players – but accepting an uphill battle for another top-four finish.

“Last season we achieved a miracle by finishing fourth,” said Conte. “And it happened why? Because we played only one competition, and we played with 12 players, 13 players, and they didn’t have injuries in the last 15 games, and we played with the best players every game.

“I remember very well in the start in the summer many people spoke about Tottenham as title contenders. It was a bit crazy to read this. But to become title contenders, to become a team ready to fight to win something, you need to have solid foundations, it needs to have 13, 15 strong players, quality, and you have to have young players to develop.

“And every season you can add two players, but two players at 50, 60, 70 million. And in this way it means you’re signing important players that can improve the quality and level of your team.

Home truths: Antonio Conte has suggested Tottenham may not finish in the top four this term (PA)
Home truths: Antonio Conte has suggested Tottenham may not finish in the top four this term (PA)

“But this is a process guys, this is a process. People think you arrive and you win. This can happen for a team that’s used in the past to winning. But if not, it means you have to create this situation. So you need time and patience.

“I understand that the fans are disappointed because they can say ‘yeah, but we are patient for a long time’. But the situation is this. If you want the truth, I tell you the truth.”

Lloris and Kane were left to lick the wounds of their errors that led to goals, but Conte refused to be critical of his players. Instead the taskmaster Italian coach insisted he will continue to push Spurs as hard as possible, warning his players not to ease off for fear of slipping down the league.

“I am the coach, I live the club every day; I know the situation, I know the vision of the club,” said Conte. “And the club knows very well my thoughts about the situation. The situation was very clear. I continue to work to improve to help to improve the club, to create a foundation, a solid foundation, and then to develop.

“And at the start of the season I was very, very clear with the club. I said, ‘okay we can be competitive, to win, but try to continue to improve and in the way that we can do it’.

“Because also and you know that there are clubs that can invest 200, 300 million. And then there are others with different policies, and I repeat, you have to respect the policy.

“The policy has to be very clear with all people, otherwise we create a situation that’s not positive for the environment. It’s not positive for the environment to create expectation at this moment, and it’s not realistic.

“From the start of the season, and I knew very well I was expecting this moment. Now we have to start to fight, strong, strong. Because the situation, we are there, and in this league you can slip quickly.

“I said to my players as well the expectation is to go to fight, because from the first until the end the road is not so long, you can slip quickly if you are not prepared, if you are not humble to understand the situation very well.

“If you ask me, I’m not scared, I believe in my work, I believe in my players. I know. But don’t ask me things that I can’t promise, because this is only to create illusion, or to give dreams and at the moment you have to be realistic.”