Antonio Conte reportedly considered Tottenham top four ‘a joke’ when he joined Spurs

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Antonio Conte insists Tottenham finishing in the top four was a pipe dream when he first joined the club.

The Italian arrived at Spurs in November after Nuno Espirito Santo’s short-lived reign and has repeatedly insisted it would be “a miracle” for his side to secure Champions League football next season.

They are now in pole position to book a return to Europe’s premier club competition, needing just a point at already relegated Norwich on Sunday to book their place in the top four ahead of Arsenal.

Conte said no goals were set for him by Daniel Levy other than to improve the situation.

“Daniel didn’t ask me anything. He only asked me how we want, with me in charge, how we can improve the situation. Not a target,” he said.

“But I think he knows very well that I am an ambitious person and that I want to try in every situation to sit at the top, to fight for it. But he didn’t ask me for anything. It must be very , very clear because if you set a target for me, I know that right now it is very difficult.

“It was sure that it was a difficult period. Sure, if he (Levy) had asked me ‘I want to go to the Champions League’, then, to be realistic, I can only tell him one thing: ‘Are you kidding?’

“It’s the truth because we are talking about England, a situation in this league which is very, very difficult, because there are four top teams. If one of these top teams does not miss the season, it will be very difficult to enter.

“At the same time, I try to do it because I like to set big, big goals, not minimum goals. I know myself, I know myself and I need this challenge to give the best.

“If you remember the last nine games, before the last nine games I said now that we are ready to fight for a place in the Champions League, we are in this race. I have never said that before , but I said it was a miracle and I said we had to fight for a place in UEFA.

“But over the last nine games, we understood that something had changed in everyone, I put pressure on myself and I pushed, I put pressure on my players and we are here to talk about an important goal for our club.

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“But it’s important that the club doesn’t forget the past and what we’ve done to get to this moment because, I repeat, we didn’t get a Champions League place. We have to take the last step. and we have to.

Even in February, a push to the top four seemed unlikely, but – with help from January additions Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur and the sizzling form of Son Heung-min and Harry Kane – Conte turned things around.

And he thanked the club for their support during the January transfer window, which also saw a number of underachievers shipped off.

“We have to be proud, but I also want to say thank you to the club because in January it’s not easy to listen 100% to your manager and for that reason I want to say thank you,” he added.

“The club believed in what I said, in the situation we have to try to improve – not a lot of things but the right things and I think we have done that.

“But I know very well that it’s not easy for the club to make the coach happy – it’s very, very difficult!”

“It was the right case and now giving back the confidence of the club, the confidence of the players, the confidence of the fans, makes me happy. But there is the last step to be very, very happy.

Additional PA Sport reporting.


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