Antonio Conte insisted Tottenham’s top-four finish last season was a miracle and called for realism about expectations as fans turned on the team and the owner, Daniel Levy, after their home defeat by Aston Villa. Conte described the atmosphere as “warm and impatient” after supporters vented their fury at the end of the limp showing.
The manager claimed he was happy with Spurs’ performance despite his team mustering only two shots on target during a display which increased the ire of fans unhappy with what they perceive as sterile football orchestrated by the pragmatic Italian. There were chants of “Daniel Levy, get out of our club”.
Conte, asked whether fans were unrealistic with their expectations, said: “I know what the reality is. I know the situation and vision of the club and they know very well what my thoughts are. I continue to work to improve the club to create a solid foundation to develop.
“At the start of the season I was very clear and said we could be competitive but try to continue to improve. You also have to know there are clubs that can invest £200m and you have to respect their quality. It has to be very clear otherwise we create expectation that’s not positive for the environment, to create expectation which at this moment it’s not realistic.
“I knew very well and was expecting this moment. Now we have to fight and in this league you can sleep quickly. We have to fight because from the first until the end the road is not so long. If you are not prepared and humble you sleep. I’m not scared, I believe in my work and these players, but don’t ask me [for] things I can’t promise you. To give dreams in a moment, you have to be realistic about the situation you face in the right way.”
Conte, reflecting on finishing fourth in his first campaign, said: “Last season, we made a miracle. We did a miracle. But I knew which was the situation and was very clear with the club. Then I recall very well people talked about Tottenham as title contenders this season but this was a bit crazy to read this.”
Conte believes his players could feel the intensity of the fans rising but did not have any complaints about their performance. “I understand but at the same time I think the players can feel a warm atmosphere,” he said. “For sure I was a player and understand when the atmosphere becomes warm and impatient. I wasn’t angry with the players because I think we gave everything today.”
Unai Emery continued his impressive start at Aston Villa with a third win from four league games. Emery said: “We spent New Year’s Eve here in London and wanted to show the match is our priority and the players did a very good performance. They ran and fought and were so confident in our defensive moment. When we could do our attacking we did clinically.”