ntonio Conte has insisted he is enjoying his time at Tottenham but declined to give assurances to supporters that he would see out his 18-month contract.
After an animated and energetic start at Spurs, Conte has cut a more downbeat figure during a difficult week, which has included two defeats to his former club Chelsea and a flat performance against League One Morecambe in the FA Cup.
The head coach has repeatedly said the club must improve the level of his squad and there have been reports this week that some of Conte’s players fear he could walk away from the job if he is not sufficiently backed during this month’s transfer window.
Asked if he could assure fans he will see out his 18-month contract, the 52-year-old said: “I signed a contract and we agreed, Tottenham and I, the length of the contract.
“I think it was good for me to see the situation and for the club to understand the coach they’re going to work with. Now, I repeat, I’m enjoying my time in Tottenham. I found a fantastic atmosphere, a great stadium, a great training ground, our fans are incredible because they always back us from the start to the end, and I’m enjoying my time in Tottenham.
“For sure, we want and I want to improve the situation. I think all the people, we want and deserve much more than this.”
Conte did, though, reiterate that he only understood the true situation at Spurs once he had joined the club at the start of November.
Asked if he realised the job would be such a challenge, Conte laughed and said: “I decided to accept this job because to work in this environment, to work in a modern club is good I think for every coach.
“When you’re outside you can [only] imagine the situation.
“Then, when you’re inside the situation, you can understand every aspect very well. Now, I repeat, it’s time to work. I made my evaluations about the situation, but now I think no words but facts.
“We have only to work to try to improve the situation that I have found here.”
Conte explained that his more subdued demeanour on the touchline was “part of a process” to give his players more responsibility on the pitch and dismissed the suggestion he was less passionate than usual during the 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in Wednesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final second leg.
“Ask the referee or fourth official if I was calm against Chelsea! He would be surprised by this question,” Conte said.
“For sure, during my management I have to try to see when I stay calm [what is] the answer of all my players. This is a strategy.
“I can drive the car but sometimes the driver can stay seated and calm. It’s part of the process to give more responsibility to my players.
“If I want to force myself to live the game in another way, it’ll be very, very difficult.
“But sometimes I have to stay seated and leave my players to make the best decision and face the game during the difficulties. It’s part of the process to improve their responsibility during the game. For sure, I’m very strong and I’ll be very strong towards the end of the season.”
Spurs host Arsenal in a potentially-crucial north London derby on Sunday, with both sides chasing Champions League football.
Conte believes the Gunners are clearly further ahead in their development than his Spurs side but said he wanted to play the game – which is in some doubt due to the Gunners’ depleted squad – to help understand the true level of his squad.
“Honestly, I want to play the game and to understand very well. I think that they’re working, they’ve started to work and to build something important,” he said.
“They had more time than us and Arteta has the possibility to work with the players for a couple of years. Also to go in the transfer market.
“I think they’re doing a good job in this moment but maybe for this reason they’re ahead in the project than us because they have started before [us] with the same coach. Now they’re having good results.
“Arsenal is a really good team, but we want to understand, to play this type of game and we want to know how much we’re improving from the last period.”