Antonio Conte’s Tottenham are in Israel to play Roma in the final game of Spurs’ pre-season as they continue preparations for their opening game against Southampton next week. Conte was joined by Dejan Kulusevski for their press conference on Friday morning and many expected a formality of team news and little in the way of transfer talk. However, the Italian manager has instead given us insight to what his plans are with the North London side.
Conte provided positive team news with Ben Davies being in contention for the match against the inaugural UEFA Conference League winners, Roma. This will be one of the many players facing their former manager, Jose Mourinho. The current Spurs manager explained the mutual respect between him and Mourinho and he expects no drama on the touchline tomorrow.
The pre-season training has been the most difficult part for many of the players. When asked about the sessions, Conte said, “Maybe for you it’s intensive. It’s normal for me.”
The former Inter boss also spoke about another Welshman, in the form of defender Joe Rodon, who is linked with a move away to Stade Rennais on a season-long loan. He believed that the best solution for the club and the player was to find Rodon regular first team football before the World-Cup. This was the same reasoning he had for absentees Sergio Reguillon, Tanguy Ndombele, Giovanni Lo Celso and Harry Winks.
Kulusevski remarked on the extraordinary finishing of Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son during the meeting with the media. He commented, “I have to make them score. That’s my job to give the ball to Harry and Son to score and their finishing is out of this world.”
Tottenham’s season is split into two because of the World Cup this year and it could prove an issue for those with many players going to the tournament being held in Qatar. Conte noted, “For now we are preparing for the season that we know. We are not thinking about the World Cup.
“After this break we have to see what happens because players can come back very tired after this competition and after the World Cup we need to see what happens and it will be good to manage this situation because for every club it won’t be easy.”
Finally, Conte delivered the most promising news of the press conference when being asked if he has changed the DNA of the club. The Italian answered, “As I’ve said before, our project, our plan is to try to become competitive, more than in the past, but you know very well that in football you build something important in one day, one month, one year you have to go step by step and try to increase quality, increase the number of players in your squad.
“Don’t forget that when a team stays in the top four and plays European games you need to face four competitions in the best possible way.
“To do this you need a good squad with good quality. We are trying to do this but we have just started this process. Last season I think we worked very well to reach a place in the Champions League. At the same time, I think we exploited United's problems and in the last three games Arsenal were four points up on us and for this reason we have to continue with the club to build with the players, to continue to improve them. They have a lot of room for improvement.
“This is a young team and we can work for many years together to improve and fight with the best teams in England and in Europe.”
This is music to the ears of Tottenham fans, players and everyone involved in the club. Antonio Conte has been nothing short of a revelation for Spurs, a team destined for decline after the sacking of Jose Mourinho and Nuno Espirito Santo’s appointment. The quick turnaround in form and fitness is spectacular and hopefully the Italian’s words ring true in seasons to come.