Conte Speaks Out About Spurs’ ‘Relegation Zone’ Defending After City Defeat

Conte on the sideline for Spurs against Man City
Antonio Conte manager of Tottenham Hotspur reacts during the Premier League match Manchester City vs Tottenham Hotspur at Etihad Stadium, Manchester, United Kingdom, 19th January 2023 (Photo by Conor Molloy/News Images) in Manchester, United Kingdom on 1/19/2023. (Photo by Conor Molloy/News Images/Sipa USA) - Photo by Icon sport

Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte has spoken about his side’s defensive frailties following the team’s 4-2 defeat to Man City at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday evening.

The defeat has seen the side fall further behind in the race for the Premier League title and the Champions League places. Spurs remain in fifth after conceding 21 goals in their last 10 league games.

Tottenham took a 2-0 lead into half time after goals scored by Dejan Kulusevski and Emerson Royal late in the half put them ahead of the Premier League title holders. However, Man City would storm back after receiving boos from their home support at the break.

Julian Alvarez opened scoring for the home side while Erling Haaland headed in the equalizer two minutes later in the 53rd. Riyad Mahrez then came into his own, the Algerian winger scored City’s third and fourth on 63 and 90 minutes respectively, to see the Sky Blues bounce back after a spell of poor form.

Tottenham’s “Relegation Zone’ Defending


The side have recorded just one league game in their last five and Conte has spoken about how Spurs’ defensive frailties have contributed to this. He has called for his players to make progress at the back ahead of his side’s trip to Craven Cottage on Monday.

“Progress doesn’t depend on the final result,” Conte told the media on Friday, “The progress you see if you start to see the players play with the personality, to start the game with the will and desire to have the ball.”

“In other side, compare to last season, we are doing less and to concede 21 goals in the last 10 (league) games, this is usually a team that fight for a relegation zone,” he explained.

Conte credited the team’s poor defensive performances not just to his defenders but to to all eleven players on the field.

“It doesn’t depend on the single part. You attack with the whole team and you defend with the whole team,” the manager said when asked what might stem Tottenham’s defensive woes.

“Last season, I don’t remember how many clean sheets we had with Hugo,” he said,       “This season, we have conceded a lot of goals every game. This is our average, like a team who is fighting in the relegation zone.”

“The positive situation is that we have improved a lot the way to face important opponents, like Manchester City, it was the same against Liverpool,”  Conte explained, “We lost 2-1, but we deserved much more. But at the end, what the most important thing is remains the final result.”

Conte – ‘We Have to Improve the Spirit’

The Italian manager was clear in asserting that his players need to adopt a better mentality and spirit if they were to challenge for the top four places in the division.

“We have to improve the spirit, the collaboration, the desire,” the Spurs boss added,    “Maybe we have forgotten to suffer and to understand that if we want to win then maybe you have to suffer like last season.”

“I dream, I want to play Champions League,” he said, “There are 18 games in the Premier League. We need to dream of something important, but at the same time to be realistic.”