AAntonio Conte believes there is a rift between his new Tottenham side and the Premier League top four and says Spurs are not ready to compete for the title.
Conte has won five league titles in his last seven seasons as a manager, but he called for patience in his attempts to bring Spurs back to life after taking over from Nuno Espirito Santo as head coach on Tuesday. .
And the Italian suggested that even a return to Champions League football next season might be difficult, saying there was a gap with “at least four teams” – presumably Manchester City, Man United, Liverpool and their former club, Chelsea.
When asked why he joined Spurs and if he thought he could win the title in North London, Conte said: “I thought his club could give me the opportunity to do what I love . Work.
“In my life I only know this word because if you want to achieve important goals you have to work and of course this club has given me this possibility, to work as I wish.
“But I know we have to take some time because in the Premier League there is now a gap with at least four teams. But this situation has to be an incentive for us to work harder, to try to start working to close that gap and to start thinking that we have to be competitive and then try to fight for the title.
“At the moment, honestly, I can’t tell you that this team is ready to fight for the title. We have a lot of teams right now that are more stable. In football, not as a club because I think this club is great, super stable. But on the pitch, I think we have to work to improve our level and try to get closer to these teams who are showing very, very strong.
“And for this reason, I repeat, I need time but that does not scare me because in my life I always work very, very hard to achieve the goal and enjoy a title with the club. But at the same time, we have to know the reality – we have to focus on the present and have a vision for the present and also for the future, to be something important together.
Tottenham came close to winning a Premier League title twice under Mauricio Pochettino, pushing Leicester close in 2015-16 before finishing second behind Conte’s side at Chelsea the following season.
Their failure to win a trophy since 2008 has often been attributed to mentality and Conte says killer instinct is something money cannot buy as he has urged his players to live and breathe a winning mentality. each day.
“Of course, this aspect on which we have to work, to improve. It’s not easy, ”he said.
“It’s not easy because you have to work every day and you have to breathe a winning mentality every day and you don’t make up that, the winning mentality. It is impossible to invent. it is impossible to pay [for]. Because it doesn’t cost any money. No money to gain the mentality.
“But I think you have to bring the right people into the club. The winning mentality, you have to breathe every day. You have to start every day with this type of mentality. You have to start thinking about football for many hours of your life to improve your results, to win. To start thinking OK, I want to win but I know it means sacrifice, it means suffering. It means working very hard. And if you start to think of it that way, it means you want to become a winner. Otherwise, you continue to stay at your average level.
Conte also revealed that his players need to improve their fitness after Spurs fell quickly in their opener, the chaotic 3-2 victory over Vitesse Arnhem on Thursday.
“I know my parameters and I know I want to have an aggressive and intensive type of football,” he said.
“To do this kind of football you have to stay in good physical condition otherwise you can follow that plane for 20-30 minutes and then come back down. It is important for us to find the right solution to work on the physical and tactical aspect because we do not have a lot of time.
“It’s just my worry that we don’t have a lot of time to work and reach the level that we need now. But I don’t like to tell you slowly but now I have to (go) slow to try to achieve the best for this team.