Saturday, December 4, 2021

Conte admits Spurs fans were right to be angry with first half against Leeds

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 21 Nov 2021

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Antonio Conte agreed with Tottenham fans who were angry with the team’s display in the first half of their Premier League win over Leeds United on Sunday.

The former Chelsea boss celebrated his first victory since returning to England’s top flight as Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Sergio Reguilon completed a comeback in north London.

Dan James had given Leeds a half-time lead as Spurs became the first side since at least 2003-04 to go six consecutive halves of Premier League football without managing a shot on target.

Some supporters made their feelings clear and the home side duly responded, Hojbjerg levelling before Reguilon pounced after Eric Dier’s free-kick hit the post to secure a 2-1 win.

“This win is very important because we struggled today,” Conte told Sky Sports. “We played two different games and they beat us on the tactical aspect in the first half.

“To play against Leeds and against [Marcelo] Bielsa is not easy. We must be satisfied. This is only a point from which to start for the rest of the season.

“We celebrated the win because I think that it was difficult and we knew this. I read the stats of Leeds and they were the first to bring high intensity. In the first half, we struggled a lot because they played better than us, they won tackles and they led the game. We conceded possession too much.

“In the second half, we changed the plan tactically and we started to put pressure in every area of the pitch. We created chances to score and maybe we deserved to score more goals. For sure it’s an important win because we needed this.

“After the first half, the fans weren’t satisfied with the football and I agreed with them. In the second, we changed it totally. I changed the plan tactically but they then played well and with personality.

“We created difficulties for Leeds in the second half and to win in this way is good as I bring with me and my players two different situations – the first half and the second half.”

The result lifted Spurs above Manchester United into seventh in the table, four points behind the top four and 10 adrift of leaders Chelsea.

While he considers them at a disadvantage, Conte sees no reason why his side cannot mount a challenge for a Champions League place over the remaining 26 games.

“For sure we want to fight and try to improve the position in the table,” he said. “I must be honest and say that in England the league is very difficult and every game is tough. You can lose points against all the teams.

“At the moment, there are four teams that for many reasons – working with the same coaches or having invested a lot of money – there is a gap to four teams but I’m not scared about this.

“I trust in my players and in this squad. We want to fight to stay close and fight for the Champions League. Then, if there is one team that slips in this season or makes mistakes, we must be there to try to do our best.”

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