(Reuters) – Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte believes the club is moving in the right direction after “common sense” transfers in the current window but has set a high bar for success, outlining ambitions of winning the Premier League and Champions League.
Last season’s fourth-place finish represented an over-achievement for Spurs, who began the campaign in decline and with modest expectations, but the return of Champions League football and a host of new signings have raised the bar.
Conte has welcomed six new players into his squad – Ivan Perisic, Richarlison, Yves Bissouma, Clement Lenglet, Djed Spence and goalkeeper Fraser Forster – before Spurs host Southampton in their Premier League opener on Saturday.
When it was suggested winning a domestic cup competition might constitute success for Tottenham this season, Conte told reporters on Thursday: “Why not Premier League and the Champions League? My target and the club’s target is to improve.
“If you get a place in the Champions League it doesn’t mean you’ve achieved your target. My experience brings me to say we’re going in the right direction… We’re doing good things – we are trying to do things with common sense.
“At the same time, I know the club needed another step to be competitive with the top teams in Europe. For this reason we have to not be presumptuous or arrogant. We have to work to improve on the pitch and outside of the pitch to become a top club.”
Italian Conte also defended his record of moving on quickly from coaching roles and said he believes longevity is the best way to go for success, alluding to Juergen Klopp at Liverpool and Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
The 53-year-old, who questioned his future at Spurs after a defeat by Burnley in February, is in his ninth managerial job but indicated that he would be prepared to remain in north London for the long haul.
“I want to build something important with this club because I like to win,” Conte said. “If you are with the same manager for many years, you bring continuity and you continue ambition.
“It’s the best situation for the club to improve and to grow season by season. To have a coach for many years, you reduce the time because you give continuity to the work with the manager and the players.
“For me, after seven months it’s easier to work with the players. You know each other.”
Conte said midfielder Oliver Skipp, who suffered a fractured foot in training, is the only absentee for their league opener with Southampton. Bissouma will be assessed on Friday after suffering a hamstring tweak in Saturday’s friendly with Roma.
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Hyderabad; Editing by Ken Ferris)