Antonio Conte has claimed he now has great confidence that Tottenham will be able to qualify for the Champions League as the team has improved in several areas.
Tottenham go into a proverbial six-pointer in the race for fourth against West Ham on Sunday, with both teams sitting on 48 points.
The North Londoners have struggled to string wins together over the last couple of months but Conte has insisted his side are showing signs that they have now turned a corner.
When asked about Tottenham’s pursuit of fourth place, the Italian told Sky Sports: “In this moment now I have great confidence. My feeling is good because I’m seeing great improvement.
“We are working very hard in these five months [that he’s been in charge] but now I’m starting to see great improvement of my team in many aspects: not only on the pitch but also outside, with the mentality.
“I think we’re preparing to have another step and it will be very important to finish the season in the best possible way to continue to give us the confidence and to continue to believe in the work we’re doing.”
Conte asserted that his players have taken a lot of valuable lessons from their recent defeats to the likes of Manchester United.
He said: “I see improvement in many aspects. Technically, tactically, and now after four months and a half, the players are understanding very well what I want with the ball, without the ball.
“We are having a bit more time to work on a specific situation on the pitch, we’re having a bit more time to work about the mentality and it happens especially after a defeat.
“For instance, after the defeat against Manchester United, I think we deserved much more. We lost the game but when we lose this type of game you have to learn a lot and try to improve.
“And on the mentality aspect, to understand there are games where you have to be strong, you have to be a killer. Because in that game we had the possibility to kill – in a sporting way – our opponent. And instead, we lost the game.”
“The whole team can improve in this aspect. The players, in the environment, have to understand there’s a difference between a win and a defeat. When you win, the atmosphere around you is happy.
“You enjoy coming here to your training session, to stay with your team-mates, with your staff, with your coach. When you lose you have to know the atmosphere has to be a bit less happy. I think you have to earn a good atmosphere around you and there is only one way: to win.”
“We know very well to finish fourth is not simple, it’s not easy. But I wanted my players to have this ambition, to have this target because now we have improved a lot.
“You know that football is strange and anything can happen but in this moment I think we’re ready to fight every game and have a good possibility to get three points. Then we’ll see what position we’re going to finish this season.”
The Spurs boss is certainly not under any illusions over the difficulty of the task that lies ahead of his side on Sunday, with West Ham buoyed by their win against Sevilla on the Europa League on Thursday.
He admitted that it will be a hard ask for the Lilywhites to finish above the likes of West Ham, Arsenal and Man Utd.
When asked how the Hammers’ win over Sevilla will impact the London derby, Conte responded: “My reaction to West Ham’s game was our game will be very difficult.
“If West Ham can beat Sevilla, who are second in Spain, it means the level of this league is very, very high. But now we are more complete and ready to fight until the end to try to reach an important target.
“It won’t be easy, there are many, many teams with the same ambitions. But if we want to improve, if we want to start to put pressure on ourselves, it’s the right time to have ambition and put ambition on ourselves.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Spurs arguably have the kindest fixture list of the four sides competing for fourth place heading into the business end of the season. However, we need to show a lot more consistency than we have done since the turn of the year if we are going to sneak into fourth place.
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