Antonio Conte has promised to continue delivering home truths at Tottenham, no matter how brutal, as he suggested his explosive outburst after Wednesday’s defeat at Burnley was merely a sign of how much he cares. The manager offered another one on Friday when he admitted the club was in a much worse state than he had imagined when he joined last November.
“Maybe in my heart, in my mind and my head I thought to find a situation not better but more ready to fight and to win,” Conte said, as he prepared for Saturday’s Premier League game at Leeds. “Instead I found a situation where we have to work a lot, much more than was my expectation to do.
“But I am not scared about the work. Only through work have I reached an important level in my career. When I arrived here, I did not ask anything. But at the same time, I know that if I arrive here, they know they are taking an important coach, not a medium coach.”
Conte was overcome by rage after Burnley, which was a fourth league defeat in five matches, with resignation about the club’s situation prominent among his emotions. He said that he could not go on like his, adding “maybe I’m not the right guy”, sparking fears he might quit.
The Italian eased them as he looked ahead to Leeds but there was no rowing back on his combative style, nor will there be. Conte, who has regularly shone a harsh light on the squad’s shortcomings, was asked whether his outbursts risked destabilising the players and club. The gist of his answer was that if they did, the players were no good to him anyway.
“If you tell the truth, you destabilise?” Conte said. “In my opinion and in my education … my family said to me: ‘With the truth, you grow. With a lie you destabilise people.’ If I destabilise someone, [he is] not good man, [it is] not a good club. I want a strong club, strong men, strong players. The truth is the only way that I know to grow.”
Conte said his problem was that he is a “perfectionist” and so when results slip his reaction will always be the same. He can only be himself.
“When you lose a game, I’m not the person to have dinner with,” he said. “My mood is very bad. I prefer to stay alone … to live the defeat, metabolise the defeat. For sure, I need one day to recover – at least. There are many coaches that don’t suffer. Sometimes I envy them.
“When I lose, if you expect me to come to a press conference and laugh … I am not this person. I am sorry if I show my disappointment because maybe it would be good to keep this inside and not show my emotion. But it is difficult for me to lie or hide the truth. I am a person who hates to lose and maybe in this club not many are used to having this type of person.
“I’m enjoying my time in Tottenham and especially when I show disappointment after a defeat, it means I feel commitment for the club. Others can think: ‘We win, tomorrow we lose, one day [we] have to go’ … and he doesn’t care. No. I want to leave something important for this club.”
Conte said he had spoken to the chairman, Daniel Levy, after the Burnley game and that they understood each other. Asked whether he could guarantee he would stay until the end of the season, Conte said: “In this moment, I guarantee the best commitment I can give to the club. I have another season of contract but you know very well that football is strange. You can have three, four years of contract and the club can sack you. Sometimes, someone decides to go away.
“You know that football changes quickly. But in this moment, I repeat, I am totally committed to Tottenham and I have a good relationship with the club, especially with Daniel. He knows very well what are my thoughts for the present and what is my vision. Everything. It is best to have a direct way with the owner. It is OK.”