As Spurs move in on a return to the Champions League, manager Antonio Conte concedes that finishing in the top four would have been considered a ‘laugh’ when he first arrived.
When Conte took over in November, Spurs was in turmoil after a dismal start to the season under Nuno Espirito Santo. As such, Conte had to overhaul the mindset of an underperforming group.
While the former Inter Milan manager was able to improve results, the team battled for consistency at the start of the season until buying into Conte’s mentality and racing up the table. As a result, Spurs is ahead of Arsenal and Manchester United in the fight for a top-four position.
Conte claims he was not given an objective when he came, and he would have laughed at the prospect of finishing in the top four, considering the team’s low morale and bad results.
‘Daniel didn’t say anything to me. He merely asked me how we want to fix the issue with me in charge. He assured the journalists that he was not a target”.
‘However, I believe he is fully aware of my ambition and desire to sit at the top in any circumstance, to battle for this”.
‘He didn’t, however, ask me any questions. This must be very obvious because if you give me a goal, I know it will be tough at this time”. “t was undoubtedly a trying time. If he (Levy) had said, “I want to go to the Champions League,” I could only say, “Are you joking?” at that point”.
‘This is the reality because we are talking about England, where there is a very, very difficult position in this league because there are four elite teams. It will be extremely difficult to move inside if one of these elite clubs does not miss the season.’
‘At the same time, I strive to accomplish this because I want to set myself great, enormous goals rather than small goals. I know who I am, and I need this challenge to push me to my limits.
‘If you recall, I mentioned before the past nine games that we are now ready to fight for a spot in the Champions League and that we are in this race.’ I’d never said it before, but it was a miracle, and I said we ought to battle for a spot in UEFA.’ But something had changed in everyone in the past nine games, so I put pressure on myself and pushed, and I put pressure on my players, and now we’re here to talk about an important aim for our club.’
Conte arrived in north London with a tremendous reputation as a trophy winner, and while Spurs haven’t won any silverware this season, he has improved many of his players and formed a strong relationship with the fans.