Antonio Conte says Tottenham lack stability ahead of the club’s Champions League last-16 tie with AC Milan.
Spurs resume their European campaign at the San Siro on Tuesday night in the first leg of their last-16 meeting with the Italian champions.
Both sides are in disappointing domestic form ahead of the clash, with Spurs having been thrashed 4-1 at Leicester in the Premier League on Saturday. Conte returned to the touchline for that defeat after undergoing gallbladder surgery earlier this month and insists it is important he is with the team.
“I’m feeling much better than before,” Conte said at his pre-match press conference. “I’m still not 100% but I am recovering well. It was really difficult for me to stay far from the team because I have a sense of responsibility to stay with the players and breathe every situation. It was really painful. It was the first time for me to stay like this.
“It is very important for me to stay with the team and for us to stay together in what is a difficult moment. In the last period, we were not so lucky … three surgeries – me and two for the other players.”
Spurs defeat at Leicester continued a poor run of recent form, with the north Londoners having lost seven of their last 13 league fixtures to drop out of the Premier League’s top four.
Conte believes his side are lacking stability and discussed the difficulty his squad face in remaining focused ‘all the time’.
“We are lacking stability,” Conte said. “It’s very difficult to stay focused all the time. Playing under pressure all the time is good for some players and bad for others. Sometimes players feel motivated and sometimes players feel so under pressure they cannot perform, they collapse under the pressure.
“The pressure is different between Italy and England. In Italy, you speak about football from Monday and you finish on a Sunday. They put a lot of pressure. You’re born in this way and you grow with this pressure. In England, there is an atmosphere that brings you to enjoy football without a lot of pressure because football is a sport. In Italy, it is sometimes a war between the fans and the teams. This is the main difference.”
Spurs are lacking options in central midfield with Rodrigo Bentancur and Yves Bissouma out injured. The former has been ruled out for the rest of the season with an ACL issue and has led to suggestions that Eric Dier could be pushed forward into midfield. However, Conte believes the solution to his side’s issues is emerging duo Oliver Skipp and Pape Sarr.
“I haven’t had time to think about this … everything happened too fast,” Conte said. “We have the solution in our house with the two young players, with Skippy and Pape Sarr.”
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