Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte says his future will be resolved at the end of the season — but admitted the club might “send me away even earlier” after crashing out of the Champions League.
Spurs lost their round-of-16 tie with AC Milan 1-0 on aggregate after a goalless second leg draw in north London on Wednesday, when the home side managed just two shots on target in an insipid display.
The result means Tottenham’s wait for a trophy extends to 15 years, raising further questions over Conte’s position at the club. The Italian’s existing contract expires this summer, although Spurs have an option to extend that agreement by a further year.
The club are yet to take up that option and talks over a fresh deal have not reached an advanced stage.
“I continue to work, I have a contract with Tottenham,” he told Amazon Prime Italia. “I respect the contract. At the end of the season, assessments will be made with the club in the most serene way.
“Let’s see how the season ends. Maybe they can send me away even earlier. Perhaps the expectations were higher and may be disappointed. What matters for a coach is trying to work and raise the bar. This year we are struggling to raise the bar.”
Tottenham’s European disappointment comes just a week on from their embarrassing FA Cup fifth-round exit at Championship high-fliers Sheffield United, leaving them with just a top four Premier League finish to fight for.
They currently occupy fourth place, three points ahead of Liverpool, who have a game-in-hand and a significantly superior goal difference.
Spurs were booed off at half-time and full-time against Milan with supporters also jeering Conte’s decision to replace winger Dejan Kulusevski with defender Davinson Sanchez for the final 12 minutes when needing a goal to force extra-time.
“I am really sorry for the fans, I am really sorry for the fans but we cannot invent the win,” continued Conte in his post-match press conference.
“This is important to know this. We cannot invent the win or hope for a miracle one day that a trophy go into our training ground or pitch.
“We have to build and have patience. I understand for the fans, they don’t have patience because for a long time Tottenham is not winning but what I can promise is that we continue to work really hard for this club to try to improve and then we see what happens.
“It’s one year and three months since I’ve been the coach of Tottenham. I always say the same things. We need time and patience because in this moment we don’t have a solid foundation to be competitive to fight to win in my opinion.
“We try to work, to understand which are the right players to continue to create a solid foundation and the transfer market to try to find the right solution to improve the team but at the moment the club knows very well which is my thoughts and I have a great relationship with my chairman [Daniel Levy], with [managing director] Fabio Paratici but it doesn’t mean that I don’t tell them which is my vision you understand? Then we will see.”