Antonio Conte has said he is happy to speak directly to his chairman, Daniel Levy, about any contentious issues at Tottenham after the club barred him from conducting interviews with the Italian media.
During an interview with Sky Sport Italia this week Tottenham’s politically astute Italian manager appeared to suggest his squad had been “weakened” by the board’s decision to allow four “important” players to leave during January while recruiting only two replacements and said the club’s transfer policy would slow the rate at which he can make the team competitive.
Conte implied on Friday that the English media were endeavouring to drive a wedge between him and Levy. “It created a bit of a disturbance,” he said. “I don’t understand why someone wants to create a problem with me; not only me but also coaches in the past. I read a lot of stories in the past about the club and it creates a problem with the coach and the chairman.
“The chairman knows very well my thoughts. If I have to speak with him, I go to speak with him. It’s not important for me to go to the media. I can speak to him.
“I was a bit disturbed by this situation especially because I had an interview with the Italian media. It means the club now doesn’t want me to speak to Italian media because the translation was not so clear in my thoughts.”
Conte said he had told Sky Italia that Tottenham had done the best they could in the transfer window and that “we are more complete” with the arrivals of Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur from Juventus. “I think I was very, very clear,” he said.
Spurs travel to Manchester City on Saturday evening aiming to arrest a run of three straight Premier League defeats which have seen Conte’s side slip to eighth, seven points adrift of a top-four place with games in hand.
His mood was not improved by Storm Eunice forcing the cancellation of Tottenham’s flight to Manchester on Friday, leaving the squad facing a road trip, but Conte at least welcomed Eric Dier’s return after a thigh injury.
Dier, described as “an important player” by his manager, will almost certainly be called to arms, particularly as Conte regards City as near flawless. “They are maybe the best in the world and almost perfect,” he said. “On one side you have a team in a fantastic period of form and on other other you have a team trying to build something important for the future. At the moment, we are on two different levels.”
Given that Conte had earlier reminded his audience he was accustomed to “challenging for titles”, he was asked whether the Spurs job was turning out to be not quite as advertised. “I always said I’m enjoying my time with Tottenham, enjoying working with these players,” he replied. “We have four months until the end of the season and we have to try to do our best to finish in the best position – and then we will see.”