Antonio Conte admits Tottenham are ‘in trouble’ and the calibre of his squad is ‘not so high’ following their shock defeat to NS Mura in the Europa Conference League on Thursday evening.
Spurs went a goal down to the Slovenian side after just 11 minutes before Ryan Sessegnon was set off for a second yellow card just over the half-hour mark.
Harry Kane equalised for Spurs in the second half but Amadej Marosa scored the winner for Mura in injury time to seal a stunning upset for the Slovenian club.
The result marks Conte’s first defeat since he replaced Nuno Espirito Santo as manager and the Italian concedes he will need plenty of time to make Spurs ‘competitive’.
‘This a bad loss for us. The performance was poor,’ Conte said after the match.
‘We know we have a lot of work ahead of us. This is a difficult moment for us.
‘We need patience to improve, to be good again. We were poor not only technically and tactically but also mentally. It will take time to bring Tottenham back.
‘I must be honest to tell you that after three weeks I am starting to understand the situation. I can tell you that the situation is not simple. In this moment the level at Tottenham is not so high.
‘There is an important gap between the top teams in England. We mustn’t be scared because I’m here to work, I’m here to improve the situation.
‘We have to stay together, we have to try to bring the team to another level in many aspects. We need time.
‘If someone thinks Conte won in the past, that I’m a magician, I tell you the only magic I can do is to work, to bring hard work, to improve, to bring my methods, my idea of football. But you have to understand we need time.
‘There is a lot of work to do. I’m not scared but I want to be honest. We can put work, heart, passion but we need a bit of time, I’m here for this.’
In a separate interview with Sky Sport Italia, Conte said: ‘Right now my mood is not good for the final result.
‘I think it was a bad defeat, we complicated our life and the game, finding ourselves with 10 men for 60-70 minutes. The performance was poor, we know there is a lot to work on, I thought that even before.
‘You have to work and have patience right now. We are probably in trouble, we just have to concentrate and work, hoping that everything will go well and improve the current situation.
‘This for me is really a bad defeat for us. We have to improve and I have to be honest, this will take time to get Tottenham to be competitive, now we have to stay united and work.’
When asked about Sessegnon’s red card, Conte said: ‘A double yellow card after half an hour… it means that he has to improve, because the same thing happened against Vitesse, these are details we have to work on.
‘There are a lot of young players and we know they have to be expected. They can make mistakes along the way.
Asked if it is the worst defeat of his managerial career, Conte replied: ‘This does not matter, I accepted this job with Tottenham, I knew it was a great challenge for me and my career, this does not matter my pride, Tottenham must be my goal.
‘To improve it, bring it back to a good level, but I know it will take time. Our fans must also be patient.
‘I want to thank them [the Spurs fans] for coming here to watch the game, they supported us from start to finish. After the match I don’t like talking to the team, when we analyse the match we will talk about what happened.’
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