London – New Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte left none of his players in any doubt about the size of the task ahead as he spoke on Friday of the need for drastic improvements.
The 52-year-old Italian took charge of his first game on Thursday and while there were some positives in a 3-2 win over Vitesse Arnhem, a frantic Europa Conference League tie also exposed Tottenham’s many frailties.
Defensively they looked chaotic and Spurs ran out of steam as Vitesse threatened to overturn a 3-0 deficit.
It was quite an opening night for the former Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan manager who was unimpressed by the way his side lost control of the match from a position of strength.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Conte accepted that turning Tottenham into a team competing at the top of the Premier League would be a big challenge and would require patience.
“We need to work a lot to try to improve this team in many aspects, not only tactically but also physically and we need a bit of time to do this,” he said.
“I have seen in this few days that we need to work a lot to improve every single player, not just one or two or three.
“This squad needs to work to improve its physical condition, to have more order on the pitch and not be so emotional during games, improve the capacity to suffer.”
Conte is well-known for the intensity he brings to his work and his news conference was delayed for more than half an hour because of an extended training session.
While the north London club now boasts one of the best stadiums in Europe and a state-of-the-art training ground, Conte said performances on the pitch had to match progress off it.
“This club has not been winning for many years and to be a winner doesn’t happen after one or two days, or two months, you must have a vision,” he said.
“This club had a great vision outside the pitch, now we have to have a vision also on the pitch. This is important if you want to win. Only if you have a vision can you start to build something for the present and the future.”
Ahead of Sunday’s Premier League trip to Everton, Spurs are ninth in the table after losing five of their opening 10 games.
While they are only five points off the top four, Conte refused to get drawn into targets for the season, saying it was not simple to take over during a campaign.
“We only have to be strong and work together and to think we need to improve,” he said. “There is a lot of space for improvement in this team.
“After two or three days it’s a short time to answer this question. I hope this commitment, attitude and behaviour continues for the rest of the season.”
Conte, who replaced the sacked Nuno Espirito Santo this week, was also asked why he signed only an 18-month contract.
“The contract is OK for me, the hope is I find the right connection for this club for a long time for sure,” he said. ― Reuters