Tottenham were beaten 2-0 at home by Aston Villa and booed off by their supporters; the result leaves them fifth in the Premier League; Conte called his side's title talk earlier this campaign 'crazy' and says they need substantial signings every season to get to that level
Monday 2 January 2023 14:25, UK
Antonio Conte hit out at the “crazy” expectations around his Tottenham side after their 2-0 loss to Aston Villa and said the club need to be signing two players worth £50-70m every season if they are to become serious title contenders.
Spurs suffered their fourth loss in seven Premier League games on a grim New Year's Day for their supporters at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, conceding more than one goal in a seventh consecutive game for the first time since 1988.
The result leaves Tottenham fifth in the table, 13 points behind leaders and local rivals Arsenal, who have a game in hand.
Conte came out fighting afterwards, defending Spurs' performance, despite the fact they only mustered six shots across the 90 minutes, and hinting that he needs more backing in the transfer market if they are to challenge for major honours.
"I continue to repeat that last season we made a miracle," he said of their fourth-placed finish last term in his press conference
"It happened, why? Because we played only one competition and we played with 12 or 13 players that didn't have injuries in the last 15 games.
"We played with the best players every game, because we played only the league. Don't forget that with three games to go, Arsenal was four points up from us - and that we finished 20 points behind Manchester City.
"We did a miracle, but I knew what the situation was and then I was very clear with the club [about what was needed] to become title contenders."
He continued: "I remember very well in the summer people talked about Tottenham as title contenders, but in my experience, it was a bit crazy to see this.
"To become title contenders, to become a team ready to fight to win something, you need to have a solid foundation, which means to have 14 or 15 strong players, with quality, and the other young players to develop.
"Every season, you can add two players, but two players priced £50m, £60m, £70m. In this way, it means you are signing important players who can improve the quality and the level of your team.
"But this is a process, guys. This is a process."
Spurs completed the permanent signings of Richarlison, Yves Bissouma, Cristian Romero, Ivan Perisic, Clement Lenglet, Djed Spence and Fraser Forster in the summer at a combined cost of £172m but Conte insisted he is also trying to create a winning culture at the club.
"People who think that you arrive and you win," he said. "This can happen for a team that are used in the past to winning. But if you are not used to it, it means you have to create the situation.
"For this reason, you need time, patience. I understand that the fans are disappointed because they can say they have had patience for a long time. I understand. But the situation is this: if you want the truth, I will tell you the truth."
Asked whether he feels Spurs fans have unrealistic expectations of their team, Conte added: "I don't have to think about what are the expectations. I know what is the reality.
"I am the coach, I live the club every day, I know the situation, I know the vision of the club. The club knows very well my thoughts about the situation.
"The situation was very clear. I continue to work to improve the club, to create a solid foundation and then to develop.
"At the start of the season, I was very, very clear with the club. I said: 'Okay, we can be competitive to win, but try to continue to improve in a way we can do it.'
"Because, also, you have to know there are clubs who can invest £200m, £300m and then other clubs who have different [policies]. You have to respect other [policies].
"But that has to be very clear to the people, because otherwise we create an expectation and it's not positive for the environment to create expectations that, in this moment, are not realistic."
Conte added that Spurs must now return to the transfer market and "buy strong" in order for him to continue the development of the team and avoid their slump continuing.
"I'm repeating this from the start of the season, but I was expecting this moment," he added. "Now, we have to buy strong, strong. Because the situation is that we are there, but in this league, you can slip quickly.
"I spoke also to my players and I said, the expectation is to grow, to fight, because from the first until the end, the road is not so long, you can slip quickly if you are not prepared and humble.
"If you ask me if I am scared, I'm not scared. I believe in my work, I believe in my players.
"But don't ask me about things I can't promise to you because this is only to create illusions and to give dreams. But at the moment you have to be realistic.
"Because if you are realistic, and you know the situation, you face the moment in the right way."
Defending his side's display against Villa, despite the result, Conte said: "About the performance, I'm not disappointed, because the performance was a good performance.
"From the start until the end, I have seen the right commitment, intensity and desire to win the three points and win duels and run.
"If you ask me, football is strange. In the first half, we dominated the game, although we didn't create chances to score, because we found a team that defended really, really deep, with 11 players.
"Then in the second half, we started in the same way and then it happened that we conceded another goal. We are not so lucky with the goals we are conceding in this period.
"This goal changed the situation, the feeling and the confidence of the players. They didn't feel they deserved to be 1-0 down after a big effort in the first half."
Speaking to Sky Sports, Conte said: "The message is always the same [to the fans]: I have never spoken about our team that this season we could be competitive, to fight to win.
"From the start of the season I say we are creating, we are building, we are trying to build a solid foundation because if you want to become a title contender and you want to try to win something during the season, you need to have solid foundations.
"Solid foundations mean you need to have your team, your squad, 13, 14 players strong, and then every year to put one, two important players to improve the quality. And for this reason, it means to invest £60m, £70m, £80m. In this way you improve the quality. Otherwise, if you go in every season not to spend...
"In this moment we have to create that solid foundation. We need to find 13, 14 players. We are trying to create this and then to start in every season to add important players, not normal players. Normal players don't make the difference. We need players that make the difference. Otherwise you have to go to develop a young player, then wait, you need to have patience. The situation at the moment is this.
"I always say the truth in my life. I don't want to create illusion. The club knows very well what I think and the club is 100 per cent, they think the same. Maybe it's good to send this message outside through the media because maybe someone can think we can be title contender."