Antonio Conte has once again refused to say whether he will stay on as Tottenham manager next season despite the club sealing a Champions League return with a 5-0 win at Norwich on the final day.
Conte has repeatedly refused to commit his future at Spurs beyond the end of the campaign, having threatened to leave if the club does not match his ‘vision’ of spending big money on ‘important players’ during the summer.
The Italian described his Champions League return as a trophy win and one of his greatest achievements, and appeared to look forward to a positive post-match press conference at Carrow Road.
But when asked directly if he was staying at the club, Conte replied: “I’m under contract until next summer. I signed for a year and seven months.
“I really enjoyed my time at Tottenham because, for me, it was a big challenge.
“Arriving during the season, for a coach like me, it’s not easy. It was a big challenge at a modern club with a fantastic stadium and training ground.
“I knew the situation I could find, to give me the opportunity to work the way I wanted. On the one hand.
“On the other hand, I have ambition, I like to fight for something important, to lift trophies.
“For me, it’s a trophy and I’m very happy. Then we’ll see.
“I always said that at the end of the season we would talk to the club and find the best solution for me and the club.
“Now I think for me, the club and the players, it’s good to have three, four or five days off and then the mind will be very clear.
“Then you can consider the whole season. I think you have to be very calm before speaking.
“Now there are a lot of emotions in the mind, my heart, for me, for the club and for everyone.
“For this reason, it will be very good to rest for four or five days and then have a good meeting with the club to find the best possible solution.”
Spurs were five points from fourth when Conte took over from Nuno Espirito Santo in November and in a separate interview with Sky Sports he said bringing them back to the Champions League after a two-year absence was “one of the most important achievements” of his distinguished career.
Doubles from Dejan Kulusevski and Heung-min Son – who shared the Golden Boot with Mohamed Salah – and a goal from Harry Kane ensured a stress-free afternoon for Spurs in relegated Norwich, where traveling fans chanted the name of Conte throughout.
While refusing to commit for the next term, Conte warned the club needed a big improvement over the summer to compete on four fronts and with the introduction of five substitutes in the top flight.
He said: “We really appreciate what we’ve done and for me I haven’t lifted a trophy this season like in the past, but… to achieve a Champions League place I have to look at it as a great success for me and for my players.
“And also for the club, consider this a great achievement after three years, Tottenham are able to play in the Champions League again. For us it is very important because the best players, the best coaches want to play in this competition, for this trophy. We must be satisfied with what we have done.
“Today is really important to celebrate this great achievement, but for sure to become competitive and be ready to fight for something big, you have to improve, improve a lot in many aspects. I only know one word, it’s work, work, work.
“Everyone has to follow the right path in this process,” he added. “We have to improve a lot. Next season the championship will be very difficult for all teams. With five subs you can change a game. If the bench is strong like a top team, like [Manchester] City, Chelsea, [Man] United and Liverpool, you have to improve your team a lot in terms of quality and numerical aspect. You have to face three national competitions in England and one in the Champions League.
“Although I didn’t lift a trophy for me, it’s a great achievement, for me in a short time and in a short period in a difficult situation, I worked a lot with my players to bring this club to to play the Champions League. I want to consider this qualification as a trophy.
“In my mind, my heart, my head, I know what we have been doing for these seven months. Me, my staff and the players. I want to celebrate and we will have time to discuss everything with the club.