Antonio Conte says there was no point Tottenham Hotspur hiring him if the club were not prepared to match his ambition because he is an “important coach” who expects to win – which, he suggested, is something the club are not used to dealing with.
The Italian insisted his outburst following the midweek defeat by Burnley, when he questioned whether he was the right man for the job and raised the possibility of leaving, was born of being a “perfectionist” and his desire to be successful. “I am an honest person, and it’s difficult for me to tell a lie or hide the truth,” Conte said ahead of facing Leeds United.
Although he added that he had not actually come close to quitting, he also steadfastly refused to confirm he would be at Spurs next season. “In this moment, I guarantee the best commitment that I can give for this club,” he said.
“I have another year of contract with this club, but you know very well, no, that football is very strange. You can have three, four years of contract and a club can decide to sack you. Sometimes someone decides to go away.”
Conte confirmed that he had held talks with Daniel Levy following his extraordinary post-match press conference after the 1-0 loss at Turf Moor and that the Spurs chairman “appreciated” what he was trying to achieve. Conte added that he had also outlined his “vision” for the club. “I am totally committed to Tottenham and have a good relationship with the club and especially with Daniel, and he knows very well what my thoughts are.
“This is the most important thing for me and also because he wanted me here,” Conte said before adding: “When I arrived I didn’t ask for anything, but they knew they were taking an important coach, not a medium coach. I am a person who hates to lose, and maybe in this club not many [people] were used to this type of person.”
Conte, who succeeded Nuno Espirito Santo when he was sacked last November, suggested that he expected to find Spurs more equipped to compete for honours. “I thought I would find a situation not better but more ready to fight, to win,” he explained.
Asked whether his outburst, following a fourth loss in five games, might unsettle Spurs players, Conte looked nonplussed before adding: “Why? Because I said the truth? If you tell the truth, you destabilise? In my education, my family said to me, ‘with the truth you grow; with a lie you destabilise’.”
Conte insisted he remained committed to improving Spurs. “When I took this job it was with great enthusiasm, great desire, great will to come back to England, to work for an important club and also to have in my heart and in my mind the desire to bring this club to be competitive, to win something,” he said, stating that he wanted the players to be as “angry” as him.
“When I lose a game, I am not the person to go to and have a dinner. If you ask me what I hate in life, it is to lose games. My mentality is to prepare myself and my team to avoid this type of situation because I suffer. There are many coaches and players who do not suffer.”