Antonio Conte believes Tottenham Hotspur are “growing in every aspect” after a 5-1 win over Newcastle United lifted them into the top four for the time being.
Tottenham were in control against Newcastle and ended the day in the Champions League places thanks to their victory. They could slip out again if Arsenal get a result against Crystal Palace on Monday. But the fact Spurs are even in contention shows their progress.
They looked to be well off the pace under Nuno Espirito Santo earlier in the season. Conte had some teething problems too, but is now showing what the squad can achieve when it clicks.
Spurs made light work of Newcastle, which Conte insists was harder than it looked. In the bigger picture, though, it showed how they are developing and striving beyond perhaps what he could have expected.
He told Sky Sports: “When you see your team play this way, you enjoy. We played a really good game.
“Newcastle, [it] is not easy to face them. They try to be compact and deep to not concede great space. Despite that we went 1-0 down and scored.
“In the second half we controlled the game and had the chances to secure the result. Newcastle is well prepared and have good players.
“We are in a good moment. The team is growing in every aspect. The work we are doing is paying off.
“It is important for me as I see the players every day [and] the commitment of my players. A good result is important for the trust in the work we are doing. Sometimes it is hard work but when you see this you trust in what you are doing.
“I like to be honest and clear in every moment with my players. I arrive in November and it was difficult to put a target on the season – I find [it] difficult in many aspects.
“But now I have had the work of five or six months, to work and bring my idea of football and mentality. If players do not want to improve and make themselves a different level it is difficult for the coach.
“But I thank my players. From the first day they have shown commitment and desire to improve.
“Having more days to work with the team is helping us. When you come in during the season you have to prepare game and game and game. You miss situations. I have more time to transfer my ideas of football. This is very important, to have time.
“We can improve. This performance, like the last one, has to give us great confidence. In England this league is very difficult but to play against us is not easy in this moment.”
Conte calls Kane an example
Sky gave the man-of-the-match award to Harry Kane, despite the striker not getting on the scoresheet. His passing was influential and he assisted the second Spurs goal, for Matt Doherty.
Conte has since poured praise on the England captain. Indeed, the Italian tactician believes Kane has the attitude to match his talent. Therefore, he regards him as an example to follow.
The Tottenham coach said: “His performance was amazing. I said to him at the end of the game that it was a shame he did not score. To have this type of player in your team makes you strong.
“It is important for his team-mates to know Kane is in our team. We know he can score and create.
“First of all I like the person. We are talking about a talented player. Many times players with great talent do not want to work hard. Not that they want to work less but sometimes they can be lazy.
“He was an example from the first day I arrived here. You can think this is normal but it is not normal. It is a big example to his team-mates and you see his desire to be competitive.”