Antonio Conte has called for expectations to be lowered at Tottenham, warning it will be “impossible” to qualify for the top four based on Spurs’ recent results.
Wolves made it three Premier League defeats on the spin for Tottenham after two first-half goals punished Conte’s sloppy side in a 2-0 win.
Spurs appeared to be motoring towards a Champions League spot in January after Conte oversaw an unbeaten nine-game run following his arrival. However, defeats to Chelsea, Southampton and now Wolves have pulled Spurs firmly back into the pack. They are now five points off fourth-placed West Ham – although they do have three games in hand on the Hammers.
And Conte, who has now lost three league games in a row for the first time since 2009 when manager of Atalanta, spelled out just how far his side are from challenging at the top end of the Premier League.
“When you lose two games at home and against Chelsea – for a team that want to qualify for the Champions League, it’s impossible to happen,” Conte told Sky Sports.
“We know we have to fight to build something important with the situation but it’s important to know the situation. Maybe our fans shouldn’t be disappointed with the defeat – instead they should try and push us and stay behind us. The players need to find the right atmosphere and feel no pressure about a target that at this moment you can’t reach. I’ve been saying this since my arrival.”
He added in his press conference: “We need to be realistic and together. Also with our fans. The fans need to understand to have patience, to wait to rebuild again to a situation they were used to in the past. Now the situation has changed, not only with me but with the other coaches.
“We are working hard with the players and there is great commitment but it’s not enough if we want to be competitive. We have to wait. Step-by-step. And it’s important to be realistic and very clear.”
Despite the third straight defeat, Conte was able to take positives from the encounter, calling it one of the best performances his team have put in since he was appointed.
He added: “To describe the defeat is difficult. It was one of the best games we’ve played – we created lots of chances to score.
“We had the possession but it’s also difficult to explain how we started by conceding two goals – it’s difficult to comment on the two goals we conceded. It’s not easy when you start the game in this way. Until the end we pushed and tried to score. We created chances. But we are talking about another defeat. We will continue to work and we have to struggle every time we play to get three points. The environment is used to playing for fourth place and Champions League but now I think everybody has to realize something has changed compared to the past.
“We have to know this. I’m doing everything to improve the situation. The environment has to understand our position at this moment.”
Location: Wolves taking it one day at a time
Bruno Lage, meanwhile, played down Wolves’ own top-four hopes despite the statement win.
Wanderers are very much in contention for Champions League qualification after going under the radar this season, and the result kept them on the coat-tails of Arsenal, Manchester United and West Ham.
But the former Benfica coach insisted he was not dreaming of the promised land just yet.
“I will not dream, I will only dream of Leicester, they are a very strong team, very hard to beat,” Lage said, talking of next week’s game against the Foxes.
“Every game is a hard game that is why in the last week I have been talking about character. I don’t believe to talk about dream.
“[We will] continue to work hard, the way we are working. One day at a time, training by training, game and game. We cannot think about too much in the future.
“The goal is every time to improve the way we are working. The most important thing is that. I don’t promise anything.
“For me the challenge is to recover the team, try to understand our game to try to decide our best XI to go on the pitch and try to play the way we played today.”