London: Antonio Conte insists he is proud to be Tottenham Hotspur manager despite a troubled season at the north London club and uncertainty about his future.
Back-to-back defeats had raised question marks about Conte’s position but Monday’s 1-0 Premier League win at Fulham revived Tottenham’s hopes of challenging for a top-four finish.
The Italian looked emotional at the final whistle at Craven Cottage after Harry Kane’s goal just before halftime sealed a vital win for Tottenham.
“I am really proud to be Tottenham manager. I had the possibility of being the manger of an important club, it makes me proud and this has to be clear to everybody,” Conte, who has looked disenchanted of late, told Sky Sports.
“For this reason I want to fight until the end with my players. We are a team that works a lot and under this aspect I can’t tell anything about my players.
“I spoke with my players and I have good players, but especially good men. They understand we have to fight until the end for the important positions, we have to be ready to suffer.”
Tottenham remain in fifth place with 36 points, three behind Newcastle United and Manchester United who have a game in hand.
And while they were perhaps fortunate to win at Fulham, Conte said he was impressed with the response of his players who have been heavily criticised in recent weeks after a poor run, culminating in defeats by Arsenal and Manchester City.
“I had a good answer from my players. I asked them for solidity of the last season and the will and desire to fight and to be resilient,” he said.
“Today has to be a starting point for us to give everything then we will see what happens at the end. We have to try to stay in the race for the Champions League and try to go to the next round in the FA Cup.”
It was only Tottenham’s second clean sheet in their last 11 league games and an improved defensive performance, especially in the second half pleased Conte.
“Compared to last season, we continued to score goals, but to concede 21 goals in 10 games it wasn’t positive. But I am happy with the response,” Conte said.
“We are in the right direction then we will see. The most important thing for me is to work with my players and to have a good relationship with the club.”