Antonio Conte has cast doubt over Tottenham’s Premier League top-four hopes and tried to address unrealistic expectations after his side were booed off following a damaging 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa.
Second-half goals from Emiliano Buendia and Douglas Luiz gave the visitors all three points to make it a sorry start to the new year for Spurs.
Tottenham conceded first for the 10th fixture in a row and have dropped to fifth in the table following Manchester United’s win at Wolves.
Even though Conte guided the club into the Champions League last season, he described that achievement as a “miracle” and insisted he will continue to be realistic with the club.
“I know what is the reality because I am the coach,” he said. “The club knows very well what are my thoughts on the situation. The situation was very clear. I continue to work and to improve and to help you to improve the club, to create a solid foundation and then to develop.
“You have to know that there are clubs who can invest £200m or £300m and others with different policies and I repeat you have to respect the policy.
“The policy has to be very clear with all people otherwise we created a situation that’s not positive for the environment to create expectations that are not realistic, honestly.
“I was expecting this moment. Now we have to start to fight strong, because the situation in this league you can slip quickly.
“If you ask me if I’m scared, I’m not scared. I believe in my work, I believe in these players, but don’t ask me for things I cannot promise you.”
Conte arrived at Spurs last November and, despite an inconsistent opening few months, managed to help them overturn Arsenal in the race for the top four last season.
The signings of Clement Lenglet, Ivan Perisic, Yves Bissouma and Richarlison in the summer raised expectations and led to talk they could be involved in the title race.
But Tottenham were booed off after a third home defeat in five matches with chants aimed at chairman Daniel Levy during the second half.
Conte insisted: “I continue to repeat that last season we made a miracle. I was very clear with the club because in this moment and before to become a title contender, because I remember very well in the summer at the start people talked about Tottenham as title contenders but in my experience it was a bit crazy to read this.
“People think you arrive and you win. This can happen for a team that are used to winning in the past. But if you are not used to it it means you have to create this situation and for this reason you need time and patience.
“I understand that the fans are disappointed because they can say ‘but we’ve been patient for a long time’, I understand it but the situation is this. If you want the truth I can tell you the truth.”
Unai Emery praised the focus of his Aston Villa team after they earned a third win in four matches since his arrival.
“We spent yesterday, the 31st of December, here in London in a hotel and we wanted to show this afternoon the match is our priority. The players did a very good performance,” ex-Arsenal boss Emery said.