Antonio Conte admits Tottenham are defending like a “relegation team” as they lose ground in the race to finish in the Premier League’s top four.
Conte’s side crashed to a second successive defeat on Thursday after blowing a two-goal lead in their 4-2 defeat at Manchester City.
Fifth-placed Tottenham have conceded 21 goals in their past 10 league matches, with that leaky defence a significant factor in a damaging run of just one win in their past five games.
Tottenham’s defensive frailties were on full display at the Etihad Stadium as mistakes from Hugo Lloris and Clement Lenglet contributed to their dispiriting loss.
Conte is growing frustrated with the blunders and urged his players to make improvements in defence ahead of Monday’s trip to Fulham.
“Progress doesn’t depend on the final result,” he said on Friday. “The progress you see if you start to see the players play with the personality, to start the game with the will and desire to have the ball.
“In other side, compare to last season, we are doing less and to concede 21 goals in the last 10 (league) games, this is usually a team that fight for a relegation zone.”
Having taken a 2-0 lead at half-time, Conte’s team allowed City to score twice in two minutes after the break to kickstart their comeback.
Conte questioned the mentality of his players, who endured a similar poor run last season only to recover to eventually to secure Champions League qualification.
Achieving that goal this season could be a lot harder, with fourth-placed Newcastle five points ahead of them with a game in hand.
“It doesn’t depend on the single part. You attack with the whole team and you defend with the whole team,” Conte said when asked for the solution to Tottenham’s defensive woes.
“We have to improve the spirit, the collaboration, the desire. Maybe we have forgotten to suffer and to understand that if we want to win then maybe you have to suffer like last season.
“I dream, I want to play Champions League. There are 18 games in the Premier League. We need to dream of something important, but at the same time to be realistic.”
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