Every word Antonio Conte said on Christian Eriksen, Oliver Skipp, his wing-backs & Erik ten Hag
Here’s every single word the Tottenham Hotspur boss said ahead of the Premier League match at Brentford on Saturday evening
Any team news?
No, no news. Good news is no new injuries. Only Matthew Doherty, Skipp and Tanganga are out.
It was a strange performance against Brighton, are you concerned it was more than a one-off?
For sure, our hope and our desire in every game is to play well, score goals and also to get three points, but you know very well that every game is not simple and this league is very difficult and in every game you have to be 100 per cent, otherwise you risk [losing]. I think during a season, this type of situation can happen, especially because don’t forget Brighton won the last game against Arsenal, and then yesterday Manchester City before they scored the first goal, they struggled against a really good team. At the same time, I think a draw was fairer, but we have to learn that when there are games you can’t win, you’re not to lose. This is important because at the end of the season, also the draws, the one point, can help you reach your target.
Manchester United have confirmed the appointment of Erik ten Hag for next season, how difficult is that job for him coming from a stable club to one that seems to be a mess at the moment?
For sure, we’re talking about a big club, an important club, but don’t forget that last season United finished second in the league. This season, United improved the squad with Varane, Sancho and Cristiano Ronaldo.
But they’ve got worse?
Yeah but it’s strange, no? Because last season they finished second and this season they improved the squad and you are going worse than last season. It means that it’s not so easy in England, especially in England it’s not so easy. For this reason I said to you during the season that many teams you have to pay attention to, because in England, it’s so difficult you can’t sleep. To finish in the relegation zone, to fight to avoid relegation or to fight for a place in the Europa League, the Conference League, to finish out of Europe.
For sure, in England, for the manager it’s a big job, for every manager because the competition is very high. The level is so high. For sure when you’re at Manchester United, it’s a top top club and the pressure is massive. For sure you have to fight to win trophies and titles. It’s not easy because other top teams have the same idea.
Is it tricky to play teams like Brentford and Brighton with nothing more to play for?
For sure, we have to pay great attention because we’re talking about a team that is showing they deserve to play in the Premier League. They’re playing very well, they’ve beaten important teams. It won’t be easy for us. They’re strong physically, they play good football and they are very dangerous from set pieces.
Another situation, now that we’re in this position, we’re fourth, and this type of game you want to beat a team that is in a good position. For this reason I expect a tough game, a tricky game. We have to pay great attention. We have to be ready because now not many games to go and every game is very important for us. Especially because we want to stay until the end in this race to fight for a place in the Champions League.
Son seems to be even more efficient this season, how have you felt about his season?
You know very well that we’re talking about an important player for me. Sonny, his time with Tottenham from the start until now, has been amazing. He has to try to continue in this way, because we need to improve, to continue to score. It’ll be very important to finish the season with good stats for every player but at the same it would be very important to finish with the team in the best possible position at the end. If we’re able to match both situations it’ll be good for the players and the club.
How amazing is Christian Eriksen’s comeback and is he still the player you signed for Inter?
First of all I’m very happy to see him play football again, because don’t forget in June it was terrible, the images were terrible for everybody. We suffered a lot for him, for his family. I had the opportunity to see him when he had just arrived in Brentford, I had the opportunity to speak with him and his family.
We’re talking about not only an important player but especially a great person, a great man. I wish him and his family the best for the present and the future. To see him again, to meet him on Saturday for a game it will be a pleasure for me.
It’s incredible because not many times this happens what happens and to see him again play football makes me very happy, because I know that football is life. To have this opportunity is great for him and his family because now they come back to have a normal life.
Is there more pressure now you’re fourth?
I think first of all we were very good to be in this race. Six games to go and honestly, before, we didn’t think that there was this opportunity, but through the work, through the improvement and we are in this race. Now for sure we want to try to stay until the end. We know very well the difficulty to compete with the other teams.
I don’t think Chelsea can go in this race. Chelsea, in my opinion, at the moment, they’re at a different level. They are there because they missed some games but they won’t stay in this race.
I think that we have to fight with Arsenal, who showed yesterday they’re in good form, United, West Ham and also Wolverhampton.
We have to think about ourselves. We showed we deserved to be in this race, we earned to be in this race and now we have to fight until the end. The last second of the last game we’ll see our place this table.
Why do you think nobody has really been able to take charge of fourth place?
I said before the game against Brighton, in this type of race it’ll be very important to make less mistakes as possible, but in this league you can drop points in every game. Every game is tough. They’re not easy games where you’re sure to go there and get easy points. United against Norwich, 3-2 and at 75 minutes, they were 2-2. It’s very very difficult, especially because when you play a team involved in the relegation zone, like West Ham against Burnley, you know that it won’t be easy. I think in this race, the team that’s able to make less mistakes from now until the end can have the possibility to play in the Champions League next season.
Oliver Skipp has signed a new five-year deal, how important can he be for the long-term future of this club?
I’m very happy for Skippy because we’re talking about a good player, a young player, a player from the academy and you know very well the importance of this club of developing players from the academy. In this squad we have Tanganga, Scarlett, Harvey [White] is also improving a lot.
I’m very happy for [Skipp] because he’s not only a good player, we are talking about a fantastic guy. Unfortunately he’s had that problem and he’s having a bit of problem with his injury because in this moment he’s not available. I know his frustration. I think this new contract shows him that we trust him a lot. He’ll be very important for the present and for the future of Tottenham. I’m delighted for him.
You’ve got two full-backs right now in Sergio Reguilon and Emerson Royal who admit they haven’t played much as wing-backs, how do you coach full-backs to become wing-backs?
I think that we are talking about a role that is not so difficult now. Maybe tactically it’s an easier role to understand the way to play. For sure you need to have specific characteristics, to have a good engine, to be strong physically. This is very important because when you have the ball and you’re in possession you become a striker, like a winger, and when we are not in possession of the ball you become a defender. I think that these players are improving. We are talking about young players with a lot of space for improvement and we are working with them, with Emerson, Sergio, also with Sessegnon, but I hope from now until the end to have all the players available, especially in these roles otherwise it becomes very difficult to face this situation.