Antonio Conte reveals why star man proved he’s ‘not so stupid’ and what was ‘really important’ in Tottenham triumph
Antonio Conte was delighted with the Tottenham response and one man in particular as they consolidated their top-four place by beating Nottingham Forest.
The knives were out for the Italian tactician during the week after their Champions League exit to AC Milan. And that followed a disappointing 1-0 loss at Wolves last weekend. But they bounced back to secure all three points with a 3-1 triumph over Steve Cooper’s side.
Harry Kane put Spurs 1-0 up on 19 minutes with a header from Pedro Porro’s cross. And the England skipper doubled his tally from the penalty spot on 35 minutes.
Son Heung-min added a third just after the hour mark before Joe Worrall pulled one back with nine minutes to go.
It was a much-needed win for the north Londoners; a fact not lost on the boss.
“Today was important, especially because after the game against Milan, we weren’t able to go to the next round of the Champions League but today it was really important because we know we only have the league now,” he told Sky Sports.
“We have only 11 games to go, we needed to bounce back and show that we are strong mentally.”
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And the former Chelsea chief was relieved that he got the right response from his charges.
“In this type of situation the morale can be really down,” he added. “Instead I see the right desire to get a win and it was positive, but at the same time I said to my players this has to be the start.
“I’m happy for the response of the whole team, the desire to help each other.”
Conte heaps praise on Richarlison
It has been a tough first season with Spurs for Richarlison. The Brazil international has struggled with injury and started only eight top-flight games, with no goals to his name.
He was given the nod against Forest and responded with a solid all-round display.
Conte was happy with the South American’s performance and made it clear there are valid excuses for his lack of productivity this term.
“Don’t forget that Richarlison started the season really well and after 3/4 games he started to play regularly,” he continued.
“He played well but he didn’t score, only in Champions League, but he was many times in the starting line-up.
“Then he had a serious injury and the guy was really scared to lose his World Cup place, then he recovered and then he got another serious injury in the World Cup.”
Conte defends Richarlison selection
Richarlison has been fit for a while but used sparingly by Tottenham. There have been questions asked as to why the former Everton hitman has been on the substitutes bench.
And, when asked, Conte did not back down over that particular issue.
“He came back after the World Cup and then stayed one month to recover and then he struggled a bit. He had other problems physically but I repeat, the coach is not so stupid,” he said.
“All the coaches are not so stupid. They start their best players. They don’t care if it’s Richarlison, Kane, Son, Lucas, Kulusevski or Danjuma, we want to win.
“I have to take the right decision. We needed to get points and we need to win in every game.
“I understand that if you speak to every player they want to play every game, even when they’re tired. It’s not fair this because I repeat you have to take the best decision.”
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