Antonio Conte will continue to deliver uncomfortable truths to his Tottenham players because “with good lies, you don’t have a long time to live”. The manager, who has lost Son Heung-min to a muscle injury for the remainder of the month, poured out his frustrations after Wednesday’s dismal 2-0 Carabao Cup semi-final, first-leg defeat at Chelsea.
Conte said the tie had highlighted how far Spurs were from the top level and added that “there is not only a problem of mentality here”, pointing out how Chelsea had invested heavily last summer on the back of winning the Champions League. “This is enough to understand the difference at this moment between us and them,” he said.
Conte wants to strengthen his squad this month and he has a strong interest in Wolves’ Adama Traoré, who can play at right wing-back or further forward on the flank. He also likes the Brighton right-sided player Tariq Lamptey, although the 21-year-old could prove to be too expensive.
Conte is focused on drawing the best from his existing players, based in part on a man-management approach of brutal honesty.
“When I was a player I hated the coach that told me good lies to keep me calm and in a good relationship,” Conte said. “If players want to improve, it’s important they listen every time to the truth. I was very clear after Chelsea. It was not only the tactical aspect but also the mentality.
“After a loss, you can learn more than after a win and my players know very well that I’ll tell them always the truth because with the truth you can improve. With good lies, you don’t have a long time to live.”
Son felt a reaction in a leg muscle after the Chelsea game and Conte said the player would not train before the winter break which begins on 24 January. It means Son will miss Sunday’s FA Cup home tie against Morecambe, the return leg against Chelsea and Premier League matches against Arsenal, Leicester and Chelsea.
Harry Kane will be rested against Morecambe after playing six times in 17 days and Dele Alli is set to start in a heavily rotated line-up.
Spurs are open to moving on a number of players, including Matt Doherty, Joe Rodon, Alli and Steven Bergwijn. Rodon, an £11m signing from Swansea in October 2020, is more likely to be loaned than sold.