Conte warns players it is up to them to impress him ahead of PL opener

‘They have to make ME happy’: Antonio Conte warns his Tottenham stars it is up to them to impress him ahead of Premier League opener against Southampton… and insists the squad are still ‘another step’ away from challenging the elite

  • Tottenham manager Antonio Conte has made six signings this transfer window
  • He has boosted competition for places and could still bring in more players
  • Roma’s Nicolo Zainolo is a target, and Conte would like another centre back
  • He warned his players it will be up to them to prove they are worthy of a place 

Antonio Conte warned his Tottenham players on the eve of the new season that it is not his job to keep them happy but the reverse, it is their job to impress him.

Conte has boosted competition within his squad with six summer recruits, and Spurs are still in the transfer market for what the Italian called ‘common sense signings’.

Nicolo Zaniolo of Roma is a midfielder in their sights and Conte would like to bring in another central defender before the window closes at the end of this month.

Antonio Conte has boosted competition within the Tottenham squad with six summer signings

‘They have to make me happy,’ said the Italian, smiling but deadly serious. And he added: ‘You understand? With their performances, to make me think who is the better player. You understand? They have to make me happy, OK.’

There are some who don’t know what to expect. He dropped Harry Winks, Sergio Reguillon, Giovani Lo Celso and Tanguy Ndombele, all respected senior internationals, from his squad at the start of pre-season.

Conte is getting his way at Tottenham and appears satisfied with the progress made since the end of last season.

Tottenham are still ‘another step’ away from challenging Europe’s elite, according to Conte

‘We’re trying to do things with common sense,’ said the Spurs boss. ‘I know only this way to try to improve the club and try to give us the right direction.

‘It’s not simple because I have to try not to make mistakes, especially in the transfer window with the club, but I think we are doing good things with common sense to try to improve the quality, to try to improve the squad.’

There is a quiet confidence about Spurs as Conte starts his first full season at the helm, but he was careful not to promise too much ahead of Saturday’s opener at home to Southampton.

‘Why not win the Champions League and the Premier League,’ he laughed when asked about his targets. ‘My target and the club’s target is to try to continue to improve, to develop the process that we started.

‘It doesn’t mean that if you lift a trophy or win the Premier League or the Champions League, or you get a place in Champions League you achieved your target. It means we have to try to develop in every aspect.

‘My experience tells me we’re going in the right direction but at the same time I know the club needs another step before being competitive to the top teams in the Premier League and Europe.

‘We have to not be presumptuous or arrogant and work, work, work to try to improve on the pitch and outside the pitch to become a top club.

‘We are going in the right direction. We are improving and our target has to be to develop the situation and to increase our value on and off the pitch.’

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