Antonio Conte has explained that he only signed a short-term deal at Tottenham Hotspur because he did not want to burden the club with his high wages unless they wanted to extend his time in north London.
Conte signed a deal until the summer of 2023 when he joined in November, with the club holding an option to extend his contract should they wish.
With the Italian speaking this week about a need for patience due to the rebuild required at the club, some Spurs fans have expressed their fear that he will not be around long enough to oversee the changes.
Conte explained his stance over his contract when asked whether he would have enough time to see through the rebuild.
“You are right because I signed a contract for this season and next season. I think that we decided together, the club and I, to go for this decision,” he said.
“I think that I don’t need a long contract to be sure to work for a club. I think that the club has to appreciate my job and then to extend my contract, but only if I showed the club to deserve this.
“I repeat, I’m not a coach that wants many years of a contract. Also, it’s not fair, because I know very well I’m a top coach with an important salary for the club.
“It’s ok, I repeat I’m open to improve the Tottenham situation and I decided to sign a contract with this club and I’m available to give my opinion, to give my vision and it won’t be a problem for me, a short contract – only one year to go.
“It won’t be a problem and I don’t want to commit clubs for many years because I understand the salary is an important salary for the club and I have to deserve this type of contract. It’s ok because Tottenham has to be sure 120 per cent to continue to work with with me. It’s ok.”
Conte explained that he was aware of what had happened at Tottenham before he joined but it was only when he walked through the doors that he could properly evaluate the situation.
“When I decided to sign with Tottenham, I know what happened recently in the story of the club,” he said. “When you arrive at a new club, you have to go into the situation to understand it very well and to know it very well.
“Outside you can only imagine. It’s the same with the players. Outside, you can give an evaluation about a player and then I think when you are the coach of the player and you live with the player day by day, you understand everything about the player and I think it’s the same for me.
“I’m happy to work with this group because they are giving me great availability, but at the same time, you know the club has to know my vision, has to know my opinion about the situation and especially what is our ambition.”
Conte has been building a relationship with Spurs chairman Daniel Levy during his short time at the club and the pair are in daily contact, as is the Italian with his compatriot and the club’s managing director of football Fabio Paratici, the duo having worked together before at Juventus.
“As you know, it’s only two months I’m working for Tottenham. For sure, I know Paratici much better than our owner [Levy] but our relationship is good,” he said.
“If I don’t see him every day, we send a message. Through the messages, we try to know his opinion about the games, about the present, about the future. I have a good relationship with him and also the other members of the club.”
Sunday brings with it an FA Cup third round tie at home against League One strugglers Morecambe and Conte is set to rotate his squad for the game.
One player who is likely to come into the midfield is Tanguy Ndombele and having said last month that the Frenchman needed to think about the team more than himself, Conte provided an update on the midfielder.
“Tanguy is showing a good commitment, a good attitude in training sessions. He has had an opportunity, a chance against Liverpool and then the second half against Chelsea,” said the head coach.
“Probably he could play on Sunday in the FA Cup. I think every game is a good opportunity for every player that is not playing so much in the last period to show me that they deserve more consideration.”
On Wednesday night, Conte delivered a brutally honest appraisal of where Tottenham are currently after their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg defeat at Chelsea.
He was asked whether there had been any reaction from his players to his comments about the improvements needed to his squad and the club.
“My relationship with my team, my players is based on the truth and not only here but also in the past because when I was a player I hate the coach that tells me good lies to keep me calm and to stay relaxed and in a good relationship,” he said.
“If you want to improve it is important of the player to listen every time [to] the truth and I think my players know very well what I think about the situation and after the game against Chelsea I was very clear.
“I said my vision and I said the truth. We have space for improvement and we started to analyse the game against Chelsea and for sure for us it will be a good example for us to improve. Not only the tactical aspect but also the mentality.
“This type of game needs much more commitment not only tactically and physically but also mentally and I think we can use this game to improve in other aspects that the people can see outside.
“After a loss you can learn more than after a win. After a defeat you can learn more and with my players they know very well that I’ll tell them always the truth because with the truth you can improve, with good lies I think that you don’t have a long time to live.”
He added: “With the players, I am enjoying my time in Tottenham because I have found a group of players who have shown me a great availability and they show me the will, the desire to improve in many aspects and when you have this type of player you are happy.
“For sure it is good to have training sessions, good to live this situation in Tottenham and have a group of players that wants to follow you and try to improve them and try to create something strong for the present and for the future.
“When you have this type of availability it is easier because when you have good players and a top man it is easier for a coach to do his job.”