Conte thanks Spurs and Daniel Levy for ‘100%’ listening to him in January

Daniel Levy
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Antonio Conte has insisted Daniel Levy did not specify any targets when he took over at Tottenham back in November, admitting he would have asked the Spurs chairman if he was joking had he talked about Champions League qualification.

Tottenham’s season was petering out under Nuno Espirito Santo, with the team’s form going from bad to worse during the Portuguese coach’s final few weeks in charge.

Hardly anyone would have expected at the time that the Lilywhites would be able to turn the season around and have a chance of finishing in the top four, which is a testament to the impact Conte has made.

Going into the final league game of the season, Spurs know that a point will be enough for them to get back into Europe’s premier club competition.

Conte has insisted that a top four finish was not something that he discussed with the Tottenham hierarchy when he accepted the job six and a half months ago.

The Italian told Football.London: “I remember very well when I spoke with the club, with Daniel, at that moment the situation wasn’t so good and the club asked me to help them and to try to find a solution to improve the team in many aspects.

“If you remember, we didn’t score a lot, Harry at that period had scored only one goal and we conceded a lot of goals, many, many problems.

“The only thing the club asked me was to try to improve the situation and to work to improve the players, to try to instil the good mentality and to bring this group of players in a level better than that moment because that moment, I remember Tottenham started with three wins in a row but then the last seven games, we did six points.

“It was for sure a difficult period. For sure, if he (Levy) had asked me ‘I want to go to the Champions League’, at that moment, to be realistic, I can tell him only one thing…’ are you joking?’.

“This is the truth because we are talking about England and a situation in this league that is very, very difficult because there are four top teams.

“If one of these top teams doesn’t miss the season, it will be very difficult to go inside, but we have to be proud, but I also want to say thanks to the club because in January it’s not simple to listen 100% to your manager and for this reason I want to say thanks because the club believed in what I said, in the situation, we have to try to improve – not many things but the right things and I think we did this.

“I know very well that it’s not simple for the club to make the coach happy, it’s very, very difficult!

“It was the right case and now to repay the trust of the club, the trust of the players, the trust of fans, makes me happy, but there is the last step to be very, very happy.”

Despite the club not setting any targets, Conte admitted that he was always going to aim as high as possible, given his love for challenges.

The Spurs head coach added: “Daniel didn’t ask me anything. He asked me only how, with me in charge, how we can improve the situation.

“Not a target, but I think he knows very well that I’m an ambitious person and that I want to try in every situation to sit at the top, to fight for this. He didn’t ask me anything.

“This must be very, very clear because if you give me a target then I know that in this moment it’s very difficult.

“I must be honest with you, I don’t like to tell lies, but at the same time, I try to do this because I like to put it on myself big, big targets, not minimal targets.

“I know me, I know myself and I need this challenge to give the best. If you remember in the last nine games, before the last nine games, I said now we are ready to fight for a place in the Champions League, we are in this race.

“I never said this before but I said it was a miracle and I said we must fight for a place in the Europa League, but in the last nine games, we understood something had changed in everybody.

“I put the pressure on myself and I pushed, I put the pressure on my players and we are here to speak about an important target for our club.

“But it’s important that the club don’t forget the past and what we did to reach this moment because, I repeat, we didn’t get a place in the Champions League. We must take the last step and we need to do this.”

Spurs Web Opinion

It is not just the results on the pitch that have improved under Conte but the mood around the whole club has been transformed. The aspirational feeling around the club, which was present during the Pochettino days, now seems to be back. Daniel Levy and Fabio Paratici deserve credit for pulling the plug on the Nuno experiment and convincing Conte to take over.

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