Antonio Conte says only with time and lots of money can Tottenham hope to compete with the ‘monsters’ at the top of the Premier League.
As he prepares to face Liverpool on four occasions at Anfield on Saturday night, while pursuing his aim of finishing in a Champions League place, the manager has set out the criteria that would see Spurs close the gap to become real contenders.
“It’s not easy,” Conte said. “It’s a tough path because now this league is tough and the gap that exists between the top teams and the other teams is a big gap.
“If you have time, passion and a lot of money to invest, you can try to get competitive and fight against these monsters. But in England there are a lot of teams who want to invest a lot of money and try to fight for something special.”
The Italian has never been shy – in any of his jobs – to ask for an increase in transfer spending. There have also been rumors about his commitment to a long-term project at Spurs. But as Conte argued for more investment, he also credited January spending to bring in Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur.
“I think in these seven months we have done a very good job with the club and the opportunity that we also had in January to sign two good players for us, to help us, to improve the quality of the team.
“We signed Kulusevski and to see the ability of this player to enter our team, like Bentancur, for us these two signings were very important.
“When there is an important player, it is important to try to sign him because you know that a top player will improve your team and the quality of your team. If you want to win something, you definitely need top players, not mid-level players.
Jürgen Klopp likes to refer to his team as ‘monsters of mentality’ and this is perhaps a third quality that Conte sees as the key to possible success. He argues the recent points drop against Brighton and Brentford was as much about his side struggling to adjust to being favorites for Champions League qualification as it was about playing against a low block. This attitude can be changed, he says, but only by winning.
“Before the two games against Brighton and Brentford we were behind the others,” said Conte. “Then we got to third and fourth place and we tried to defend that position. But I think this team and this group of players are improving in every way, also to handle the right pressure.
“A lot of people talk about ‘winning mentality, winning mentality’, but you get the winning mentality when you start winning. Winning becomes a drug for you and you want to repeat it. You want to have this fantastic moment, to celebrate, to feel in this moment that you are the best. It is important.”