Tottenham boss Antonio Conte admits he was unsure whether to go full throttle for the whole of the 2-1 win over Leeds.
Conte enjoyed a first Premier League win in charge of Spurs as they overcame a dismal first half, where they trailed to Dan James’ goal, to take the three points thanks to goals from Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Sergio Reguilon.
The second half gave a glimpse of what could be expected under Conte as his side outran their opponents by around 3km, with matchwinner Reguilon claiming after the game that he felt “dead”.
“This team has character and personality.” 💬
Antonio Conte on today's victory… pic.twitter.com/oGMLpq8NRB
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) November 21, 2021
The Italian has not had long to work with his whole squad due to the recent international break so has been unable to drill them as he would have liked.
“For sure at the start of the game I was scared,” Conte admitted. “I was afraid about this aspect.
“In these three weeks, we have worked also on the physical aspect but we worked with the players that we had with us.
“The rest of the players were with the national teams. When I arrived in Tottenham, we played two games – Vitesse and then Everton – and we couldn’t work on this aspect.
“For sure we need to improve because I like to bring this intensity. I had a bit of perplexity [whether] to use this intensity for the start. I didn’t know if we could bring this intensity for the whole game.
“First half, for sure but it was my decision. We were more compact. We left them to lead the possession.
— Premier League (@premierleague) November 21, 2021
“Second half I totally changed the situation and the tactical aspect and also I said to them we had to go, man to man, and play with the same intensity.
“If we wanted to beat Leeds, we had to beat Leeds at what they’re good at doing.”
Spurs were booed off at half-time following a drab opening 45 minutes where they extended their time without a shot on target in the Premier League to 272 minutes.
Hojbjerg, who ended the team’s near five-hour goal drought to level up, accepted the fans’ displeasure and is keen to ensure it will not happen again.
He said: “I kind of understand it. I hope it won’t happen again but I understand there are high demands, high pressure.
“The fans have great expectations because we’re a great team, so I take that as a compliment.
“We’re here to perform well and let the fans celebrate, which is the main thing. We did that in the second half and the fans were incredible in the second half also, so let’s try to do that from the start.”
Leeds put on a valiant display considering they were without a host of key players such as Raphinha, Rodrigo and Patrick Bamford.
Boss Marcelo Bielsa says his side will only look for cover in the January transfer window if it makes financial sense.
🎙 "The differences they achieved were bigger than ours" Marcelo reflects on today's defeat pic.twitter.com/wpsj0sCgKt
— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 21, 2021
He said: “It’s not only about the amount of players, but the quality of the players who form the squad.
“The players we want of level for any position they cost us a minimum between £20-30m, so in an institution like Leeds who have invested a lot in players, in the first year and also the second year, to imagine that we could increase the power of our professional route this shouldn’t be evaluated without looking at the economic possibilities.
“I have the feeling we should only bring in players if they’re better than the ones we already have and whether it’s normal to demand investment in a team that’s invested so much already. Hopefully we can resolve this with the recovery of the players who are absent.”