Conte says Tottenham are in Champions League race after Newcastle win


Antonio Conte declared his Tottenham team to be “now in the race” for Champions League qualification after they swept Newcastle away with a devastating second-half performance.

Tottenham’s third successive win, and their sixth in eight, lifted them into the top four for at least 24 hours and the manner in which they cut loose to score five goals may look ominous for their rivals. Conte has urged caution about their prospects since being appointed in November, suggesting more than once that they are well short of the level required for Europe’s elite, but he has seen enough improvement to believe they have a realistic shot at finishing the season successfully.

“When I arrived I found one type of situation and at that time it was very difficult to believe [we would]be in the race for the Champions League,” Conte said. “But I think in the last period I have seen my team is now in the race because I have seen great improvement.

Conte went out of his way to praise Harry Kane, who was heavily involved in Spurs’ second and third goals but did not score himself, and said he wants to ensure the England captain is convinced about the club’s long-term direction.

“He deserves the best because he’s a great worker,” he said. “He was a big example for his teammates. When you see him working this way, you have the desire to continue to work and to work very hard. For this reason I want to tell him thanks, because he is always a big example and I hope to give him satisfaction. I think he is enjoying playing this type of football and we have to try to continue together because I’m seeing great improvement in many players. Everyone is improving their level and for this reason Tottenham is going up and up.”

Eddie Howe was disappointed by the way Newcastle, who had led through Fabian Schär, responded to going behind and said the defeat was a reminder that their relegation fight has yet to conclude successfully. “I’m being careful to not go too over the top with my criticism,” he said. “But we need to be smarter. It was in our desire to get back into the game. What’s to come is a key week for us. We’re in a position that we didn’t expect to be in. Maybe this is a little jolt that we can’t get ahead of ourselves.”
Source: The Guardian