Antonio Conte offers new warning over Tottenham ambition before crunch AC Milan tie

Antonio Conte offers new warning over Tottenham ambition before crunch AC Milan tie

Antonio Conte has said that success for Tottenham is competing to win trophies every season and warned the club they will keep failing if they do not learn from their FA Cup exit at Sheffield United.

Conte returned to work at Spurs on Monday after a three-week convalescence from emergency gallbladder surgery and he will be back in the dugout for Wednesday's Champions League last-16 decider against AC Milan, with his side trailing 1-0 from the first leg at the San Siro.

In his absence, Spurs crashed out of the FA Cup with a meek fifth-round defeat at Bramall Lane to leave them on the cusp on a 14th consecutive season without silverware, barring a miracle in the Champions League.

Spurs are still fourth in the table and well-placed for consecutive top-four finishes under Conte but the head coach says the club must learn to share his desire to compete for trophies every year.

"For me, this season represents a success if we fight to be competitive to win something," Conte said. "This has to be our target. Tottenham as a club has to need this target every season, to fight for something important, to fight to win. But to win is not easy.

"We are in the country where it is the most difficult country to win something because in the Premier League the level is really top and you have a lot of teams that want to win.

Back at work: Antonio Conte will return to the Tottenham dugout against AC Milan (Getty Images)
Back at work: Antonio Conte will return to the Tottenham dugout against AC Milan (Getty Images)

“Many teams that are going to improve year by year and for sure we have to try to be prepared to improve the level and in my opinion about myself every season I want to fight to be competitive to win something. If this not happen, it is not positive for me."

Conte and assistant Cristian Stellini rested Harry Kane, Cristian Romero, Dejan Kulusevski and Oliver Skipp for the defeat at Sheffield United, leading to accusations they were not taking the FA Cup seriously.

Conte insisted the competition was "really important" for Spurs and says they must learn from the result and to cope with the pressure as they prepare for Milan.

"We need to learn. If you don't learn anything about this type of defeat, it means you're ready to have another defeat next year," he said.

"When you win, usually you're happy, you have not a lot to learn. After a defeat you have to learn a lot.

“We're really disappointed for what happened, especially for our fans because we know very well our fans expectation and they wanted to see the team lift the trophy. For this season, we're really disappointed."

Looking ahead to Milan's visit, Conte added: "We live for this type of game, we live for this moment.

"When the pressure is going up, it means that your level is going up. Don't forget last season we played Conference League and instead this season we are playing Champions League.

"Don't forget the past and to understand that we need to have step by step to improve the situation. Then if you ask me do I want to win Champions League? I say yes but then there is reality. We have to be ready to go game by game.

“Tomorrow the obstacle is Milan and we have to beat them by two goals if we want to go to the next round. The pressure is normal and we have to live with this type of pressure.

"Maybe If there is one thing that we have to try to improve, the whole environment here is to live with the pressure. To live with the pressure, it can mean sometimes to be a bit stressed, not always be at peace with yourself, but to stress yourself and to put pressure in a positive way. I think that in this aspect we can improve a lot and the whole environment can improve a lot in this aspect."

Conte insisted he is now fully recovered from his operation and revealed he had wanted to return to work for Saturday's 1-0 defeat at Wolves.

"Honestly I wanted to come back after the game against Sheffield United but the doctor stopped me and said: ‘Now, you have to listen to us and wait two more days'," Conte said. "Honestly, I wanted to come back early but in this case, I should respect the doctor and also Tottenham’s doctors because they were really worried after the game against Milan.

"The first leg. For this reason I come back on Sunday. Now I repeat I am well. And yesterday I tried during the training session … I have a lot of energy and I want to transfer my energy to my players for this important game."