Antonio Conte is preparing his players for Saturday’s crucial clash at Manchester United by stating how finishing in the top four with Tottenham would be akin to winning the Premier League title or the Champions League.
Spurs are locked in a four-way battle to finish fourth this season, with Arsenal currently occupying that coveted place after a solid run of form. West Ham and Saturday’s opponents, Manchester United, are also in a race which looks likely to go down to the wire.
As it stands, Tottenham are currently looking to raise their own standards under Conte. They have shown flashes of what they are capable of in a 4-0 romp at Leeds and then Monday’s 5-0 destruction of Everton. But those results have been punctuated by 1-0 defeats at Middlesbrough in the FA Cup and at Burnley in the Premier League.
Clearly there remains work to do for Conte to get his message across.
That said, the Italian was clearly delighted with his players after Monday’s thumping win.
However, another acid test is next on the agenda with the trip to Old Trafford and the crucial clash with United.
The Red Devils themselves have also been dogged by inconsistency this season and also need the points.
They invested heavily over the summer in signing Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane and Cristiano Ronaldo. And while they are not as high as many predicted, Conte insists they have a squad capable of winning the title.
Tough game on the agenda
It’s for that reason why Conte reckons Spurs face one of their hardest games of the season on Saturday tea-time. He also wants his players to take control of their own destiny in their final 12 games.
“For sure it was a really good performance tonight,” he told football.london. “We scored five goals, we created chances to improve the final result. Many, many positive aspects and I have seen with my staff that when we have more days, more time to prepare for the game, to play against us is difficult for everybody.
“The problem when we have to prepare to play in two or three days is not simple. Don’t forget that with this team I didn’t start the season. I haven’t had the possibility to have one month to work with the team in pre-season and try to work and instil my idea of football. We did this playing games, important games for three points.
“I think that I am seeing my work. I am seeing what we are working on every day, what we are trying in this situation where I’m trying to improve them.
“Tonight was good for many aspects but I think also in the other games we played a good game. At the same time I want to tell you what I said to my players ‘ok this is the past and enjoy the game tonight but from tomorrow you have to think about Saturday’s game against United’.”
Conte reveals true feelings on Man Utd
Conte knows Saturday’s clash will push his players to their limits, having revealed his thoughts on the Red Devils.
“They’re a really strong team, a team that in my opinion. They are a squad that is ready to fight for the Premier League and every competition that they play in. It will be a real challenge for us and I want to see the answer. I want the answer about my players and also myself.
“Now we have 12 games to play until the end of the season. I listen and you ask me in every press conference about the top four race. I said to my players that it’s right to take responsibility about this. From when I arrived to now, I think we are stronger.
“In January two players made us more complete. I think that we can fight. We can fight for this target. It’s important to have this ambition and it’s not right to hide our ambition and ok we’ll see what happens.
“We’ll try to do everything and at the end we’ll see what happens. Now we have only 12 games to play, not a trophy to play for. For this reason it’s right to take the responsibility, me, myself, I have to be the first.
“You know I don’t like to speak about ambition and reaching a place in the Champions League. I like to play to win the league and win trophies. But in this situation this could be our Champions League, our Premier League title if we reach fourth.”
He certainly believes in his team but what he is actually saying is that they need to believe in themselves, he can see that improvement in the team. It’s just a shame that we didn’t have him instead of santo’s I think it would have been a different story today, but like he said that’s the past and we must concentrate on the future. It will be interesting to see what happens in the summer signings.