Antonio Conte has criticised Thursday’s meeting between the Premier League and managers as a waste of time – because he believes everything was decided in advance.
Tottenham’s manager barely concealed his frustration as he described a meeting intended to discuss issues arising from the latest Covid outbreak – including player welfare and fixture congestion – as like talking to a wall.
”If I have to be honest, it was a meeting where we tried to speak and some coaches tried to speak, to ask about solutions but I think everything was decided,” said Conte. “It was a wall. For this reason, I prefer not go into the discussion.”
When asked if the meeting was a waste of time, Conte replied: “I think so. Because when you have a wall in front of you, you can speak and ask for what you want, but every decision was taken.”
Conte’s side have been hit hard by a Covid outbreak which led to the postponement of two fixtures: a league game against Brighton and the Europa Conference League match against Rennes.
The Tottenham manager warned that the glut of fixtures over the Christmas period, with games against West Ham, Crystal Palace, Southampton and Watford over an 11-day stretch, would put even more pressure on his squad, which he said was still feeling the effects of Covid. Sunday’s game against Palace is followed by Tuesday’s visit to St Mary’s.
“It is not easy for us, and it is not easy for all the teams,” he said. “To play after only one day is not simple. You have to manage the situation very well because of the risk of losing players to injuries, so we have to pay great attention, especially my team.
“Don’t forget we had half our squad with Covid – and then you have to live with this situation for two to three weeks after you finish Covid. We have to try to manage the situation very well because for sure physically the players with Covid are not 100% fit. So in these next two games we try to rotate the players to find a good balance and a good solution.”
Conte said he would monitor Harry Kane’s fatigue levels especially closely, and was aware that his captain had ruptured a hamstring on New Year’s Day in 2020 after a busy period of games.
“I know this and it’s difficult to start the game without Harry because he is a point of reference in our team,” said Conte. “I will speak to him and with all the players because I want to understand very well what is their real physical condition, and if there is someone that has a bit of fatigue.”
Norwich also face games on Sunday and Tuesday after a recent Covid outbreak that forced off one of their fixtures and their manager, Dean Smith, said: “We are having to push rehab forward and people are breaking down in rehab because of that … It is lunacy that we are having to play two games in 48 hours and there has got to be a question about the integrity of the competition when teams are playing weakened teams against other teams and it is affecting league positions.”