Antonio Conte has claimed that everyone at Tottenham should be proud of how far they have come in the year since he arrived at the club.
Despite sitting in third place in the Premier League table and finishing first in their Champions League group, Spurs have come in for quite a bit of criticism from certain parts of the media over recent weeks for their performances (ESPN FC).
It is perhaps sometimes easy to forget how bad the situation was when Conte arrived at the club one year ago, with the Lilywhites looking all over the place defensively while also struggling to score goals under Nuno Espirito Santo.
Conte has now remarked that he is delighted to reach the knockout stages of the Champions League and insisted that critics do not understand how difficult it is to cope without so many key players.
When asked about his year in charge of Spurs, the Italian told Football.London: “We must be happy because in one year we made a lot of progress in every aspect.
“To finish last season in the Champions League places, fourth place, and then this season [to qualify] despite a lot of important injuries – because we are not talking about fringe players.
“Many times people forget that there are teams that can allow to lose two, three, four players and other teams have to pay a lot when you have these big injuries of important players.
“Sometimes people like to speak and they don’t understand what it means to face this difficult situation, what it means to play every three days with only 13, 14 players. What we are doing is important and I repeat, we are trying to manage the situation in the best possible way.”
Conte conceded that some of Tottenham’s performances over recent weeks, such as their first-half display at Marseille, have not been up to scratch. However, he reiterated that he is proud of the way his players have coped with some difficult moments.
The 53-year-old added: “If you ask me why it happens, a first half like Marseille, for sure I’m the first to be disappointed because the first half was really, really poor but the players know that. We didn’t prepare to have this type of first half, we wanted to be aggressive.
“But I played football, I was a player, and I understand that sometimes when you have an important target to reach and if you prepare for another situation, mentally you want to defend.
“And also if you play in an aggressive atmosphere because we found really an aggressive atmosphere in Marseille, it can happen, this type of situation.
“I spoke with my players and I think we have to be proud of the achievement because don’t forget last season we were not able to overcome the group in the Conference League.
“If you ask me if we can improve, then yes. First of all, we need to recover all the players and then to try to improve in every aspect.
“But sometimes you have to play a game in a way you are forced to play, in a way you didn’t prepare, but you have to face difficulty and I’m proud of my players for their reaction in the second half.
“They showed me great desire to overcome the difficulty and to take this qualification that for the club, for the fans, for everybody is really important. In my opinion, I wasn’t so sure many people would say it.”
Spurs Web Opinion
Some of the criticism aimed at the Spurs players by certain pundits over recent weeks has been a little tone-deaf. It is worth remembering just how emotionally draining the last month and a half has been for the squad.
They have lost a loved colleague and friend in Gian Piero Ventrone while also having to face high-pressure games every three days despite missing some of their key attacking players.
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