Conte says Europa Conference League is 'important' to Tottenham
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Tottenham boss Antonio Conte has given a grim assessment of his side’s dismal 2-1 defeat against Slovenian minnows NS Mura on Thursday evening. After going down to 10 men in the first half, the home side scored with the last kick of the game to plunge Spurs’ UEFA Europa Conference League campaign to a new low.
Tottenham’s visit to Slovenia got off to a torrid start when Tomi Horvat left Davinson Sanchez for dead before curling in a sublime effort.
Ryan Sessegnon, who has spent most of his stint with Spurs stuck on the side-lines, then received his second yellow card just after the half hour mark.
It was an uphill battle from there, and although Harry Kane’s deft chip briefly pulled the game level, the home side went wild after notching in the dying embers.
Defeat to NS Mura was Conte’s first in the job, and his rundown of affairs after the final whistle painted a grim picture of his early time with the club.
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“After three weeks, I am starting to understand the situation. It is not simple,” admitted Conte.
“At this moment, the level at Tottenham is not so high. I am happy to stay here but we have to work a lot to improve the quality of the squad.
“But I am not a magician, and after three weeks I have found players that want to work and have great commitment, but sometimes it is not enough.
“We are Tottenham but there is an important gap with the top teams. But I am not scared.”
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While Tottenham had managed to avoid defeat in Conte’s other three games at the helm, they are yet to truly blow an opponent away.
Many felt as though that performance may come on Thursday against over-matched opposition, but NS Mura fought with the Lilywhites all the way, even with talisman Harry Kane up top.
Sessegnon may leave Spurs’ European away trip with the greatest regrets though, given the lack of opportunities he has been granted during his Tottenham career.
Conte himself admitted that their midweek encounter represented a crucial opportunity for peripheral figures to impress.
The importance of that rings true not only for players looking to work their way into the first team, but also to consolidate their Spurs future with the January transfer window just around the corner.
Having headed to north London under the promise that he would have money to spend alongside sporting director Fabio Paratici, a number of stars could soon be at risk.
The likes of Tanguy Ndombele and Dele Alli were under pressure to produce a big performance, but both were hauled off before the final whistle.
As per Conte’s own admission, Tottenham’s situation is not ideal, and very few, if any of those who featured on Thursday gave the Italian food for thought regarding their upcoming Premier League clash with Burnley.
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