Yesterday was a great day for everyone associated with Tottenham Hotspur, and that includes their current head coach. We’ve discussed ad nauseum about Antonio Conte’s will-he-or-won’t-he attitude towards whether he will decide to grace Spurs with his presence on the sidelines next season, but to his credit, he seems to have gotten the assurances from the club that he needs, because his recent comments about the future have all been pretty good.
In comments given to the press after yesterday’s 3-0 drubbing of Arsenal (and yes, I never get tired of typing that out), Conte gave his most conciliatory and positive statements yet, saying that he’s “100% and more” committed to being at Tottenham Hotspur.
“From the moment I came to the club — and in every club I worked in in the past — I go totally with my heart, mind and head. Totally. One hundred per cent and more.
“This is my characteristic. I’m a passionate person, I think I showed this passion. I like to go totally into the club where I work. I know that only in this way I’m able to give everything and to recieve everything from my players, my club and the fans.
“Because, if I’m the first person to give 200 per cent, then for sure I can ask for this [in return].”
It’s easy to say stuff like this after a huge win over your arch-rivals that have kept you in the hunt for Champions League qualification with two matches to play, but boy howdy that’s nice to read. Obviously the club still has to follow through with their end of the bargain — spend a lot of money, bring in some quality players this summer — but gotta say, Conte sure does seem like he wants to stick around.
Conte went on to encourage the almost rabid home crowd yesterday to duplicate the same atmosphere for Sunday’s home match against Burnley. Spurs may have beaten Arsenal, but it means nothing if they drop points against a club still battling to avoid relegation. And if you recall, the loss at Turf Moor was the match where Conte publicly questioned whether he was the right man to lead Spurs. Conte explained that his comments were designed to inspire his team, and that his intent was mostly misinterpreted by the media.
“[The loss at Burnley] made me very, very angry. I think it was a good step for my players, for the club, to understand what I wanted. There are moments that if you want to change the situation, sometimes you have to go strong. I understand very well that I took a risk, because a lot of people didn’t understand [my comments]. I read that it only took two months for Tottenham to make Conte crazy!
“Sometimes coaches have a strategy: the stick or the carrot. At the time, all the environment needed the stick. Myself was the first person, because I hit myself — and then the others. The first to take the blame has to be the manager. The manager has to address the situation. I thought it was right to go strong to try to change the situation.
“At the time, in my opinion, no one could think that with two games to go, Tottenham could be fighting for the Champions League. Now we are there — and from that step we improved a lot. There are moments when everyone has to take responsibility — the manager is the first, then the players, the club and all the employees of Tottenham, because we win and we lose together.”
“On Sunday, we have to win. I ask to our fans to recreate [the derby] atmosphere because it was amazing. The fans scored one goal. We scored two and one for our fans. It’ll be important on Sunday to stay together and create again this atmosphere, because it won’t be easy. It’ll be a sporting war.”
Spurs kick off at home to Burnley in a special early slot on Sunday morning — 7:00 a.m. ET / 12 p.m. BST.