Antonio Conte has issued a robust defence of his style of play, saying he “can teach football to many people” following criticism of Tottenham Hotspur’s approach in their derby defeat at Arsenal on Saturday.
Spurs had just 35 per cent of possession, and took only seven shots to Arsenal’s 22, but Conte has no regrets over his tactical set-up. The Italian pointed out that his teams had never conceded “six, seven or eight goals” in a game, in what could be interpreted as a reference to Manchester United’s 6-3 thrashing by Manchester City on Sunday.
A bristling Conte also delivered a blunt response to calls from supporters for new signing Djed Spence to be given more playing time, saying the fans could think what they want and insisting that the full-back, who cost an initial £12.5 million, was not ready.
Asked about accusations of Spurs being a defensive team, Conte said: “When you lose, you have to explain, and when you win, the opponent has to explain, but, for me, it’s important to try to have a plan, to put my players in the best possible situation to exploit their characteristics.
“Otherwise it can happen that you can concede six, seven or eight goals. In England, that has happened a lot of times. In my career, it never, never happened and I don’t like to play open, to concede a lot of space and concede six, seven or eight goals. I won in England and I won in my past, and I think I can teach football to many people.”
Spurs face Eintracht Frankfurt in the Champions League on Tuesday night and Ivan Perisic, the wing-back, admitted the players failed to show enough “fight” against Arsenal.
“In football, you get another chance and now three days later we have to show it was only a bad day,” said Perisic. “We have to play better, we have to run more and we have to fight for the club. This is what we didn’t do in the last game.”
Dejan Kulusevski and Lucas Moura remain unavailable for Spurs due to injury, and Conte clearly has no appetite to use either Spence or Matt Doherty as his right wing-backs in Germany.
Spence joined from Middlesbrough in the summer in a deal worth up to £20 million but has played only one minute of competitive action so far this season. The red card for right-back Emerson Royal at Arsenal has prompted many Spurs fans to call for the 22-year-old to be given more action.
“The fans are the fans, they can think everything,” said Conte. “But I see every day what happens during the training sessions. I try to do the best for the team. If the fans trust me, then they trust me, but the choices are mine. If I didn’t decide to pick one player it is maybe because he is not ready.”
On Doherty, who has played only 29 minutes of club football this season, Conte added: “Doherty last season played every game. Now I am not seeing him in the right way to start the game. I’m not stupid, I don’t want to lose.
“I try to put the best team, to pick the best team. If they [the fans] trust me it’s OK, if they don’t trust me then I am the coach and I need to take the best decision for Tottenham.”