Antonio Conte delighted with Spurs’ performance, warns rookies to fight for places

Antonio Conte was enthusiastic about Tottenham’s style during their 4-1 victory over Southampton on the first day and warned his new players that they must struggle to earn a place in his starting line-up.

A busy summer for Spurs, when they brought in six players, increased optimism and excitement around N17 going into the game, but James Ward-Prowse’s 12-minute opener threatened to dampen the spirits.

Instead, the hosts shook hands with Dejan Kulusevski in an overbearing form, and it was his cross that allowed Ryan Sessegnon to equalize. Eric Dier made it 2-1 before half time, and Kuluszewski finished the scoring with a brilliant fourth goal two minutes after Mohammed Salisu’s own goal.

Spurs boss Conte said: “The reaction was really good because we kept calm, we kept playing the way we know, believing in what we tried earlier this week before the Southampton game.

“We won three important points, but the most important was how we scored three points, with really good football, with the ball, without the ball, with important pressure, and how we decided to win the ball after we lost it. . another important aspect.

“We are working on introducing football knowledge from the last season. Today we saw for sure that this team has seven months of work behind them.”

Sessegnon ended the 2021-22 campaign strongly, but he has competition for his place in Ivan Perisic and yet he met the challenge with a wonderful effort in the 21st minute. years ago.

The England Under-21 international has suffered from injuries in recent seasons but Conte feels he is ready to play and is pleased with his goal after he was unable to play in a similar situation a few minutes ago.

“Maybe five minutes before there was a cross and he was behind his opponent. On the bench, we were very upset because of him, ”the Italian joked.

“Three minutes later he scored and we were happy and very celebrating because five minutes before he was not in the same place to score.

“Today he scored another goal, he was always in our attacking position and that was good. I’m happy for him because he has a lot of potential, but he has to show that potential.

“We give him stability in the physical aspect. I think it’s very important that we sign a player like Ivan because he sees a way to learn something new about Ivan.”

Perisic was one of five rookies who had to settle for a place on the bench, and although the Croatian made his debut as a substitute alongside Clément Lenglet and Yves Bissouma, Conte warned the summer recruits that they had work to do to force out the old guard. .

He added: “I think I’m using common sense because at this point we’re starting a new season and old players are doing great things last season to get a place in the Champions League.

“I think in the last 10 games we played very well and showed fantastic results. My message was very clear that I have a lot of trust in the old players and at the moment they are more reliable than the new players because they need to keep working with us and keep applying football knowledge.

“With old players, I’m one step ahead. For this reason, I prefer to rely on older players at the beginning, but I think it was right after this game and the final result.

“At the same time, I’m very excited because we have new contracts coming into our process and they will definitely help us get better, but they need to know they have to fight.”

Saints boss Ralph Hasenhutl was left to reflect on a disappointing day in the capital despite a strong start.

“It seemed like the enemy had shifted into the next gear and we couldn’t keep up with it,” he said.

“It was frustrating to see how big the gap was between the two teams. After the first goal, we had the feeling that they were completely in the game and they were blowing us away with their crosses and we couldn’t defend.”