Antonio Conte called on Tottenham to use their victory over Fulham as a “starting point to give everything” in their bid for Champions League qualification.
Harry Kane matched Jimmy Greaves’ all-time scoring record for Spurs as Conte’s side responded to back-to-back defeats against Arsenal and Manchester City with a 1-0 win at Fulham on Monday.
The manner of the losses to the two Premier League title challengers had caused concerns after a timid 2-0 defeat to the Gunners and 4-2 reverse at City in which Spurs surrendered a two-goal lead.
Head coach Conte says his side must take victory over Fulham, which moved Spurs within three points of the top four, as a benchmark for starting to correct underwhelming form after the World Cup break.
He told Sky Sports: “I got a good answer from my players. We needed a game of solidity like last season. They had the desire to fight and to be serious.
“We showed, when we play as a team, it’s very difficult to play against us. I have been happy with the performances, but we had two losses against Arsenal and City.
“Today has to be a starting point to give everything. We have 17 games left; we have to see what happens.
“We have to try to stay in the race for the Champions League, to try in the FA Cup and do the same in the Premier League. It was important to speak and explain the situation compared to last season.
“We are continuing to score, but conceding 21 goals in only 10 games wasn’t positive. For this reason, I had a good answer and response from my players.”
Three BIG points
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial)
The omens may be good for Spurs, given they have exactly the same number of wins (11), draws (three), defeats (seven) and points (36) as they did after 21 Premier League games last term when they finished fourth.
Reports persist around the supposedly fractured relationship between Conte and Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy, but the Italian insisted he is “proud” to coach the club as he aims for another top-four finish.
“I am really proud to be Tottenham manager. I had the possibility of being the manager of an important club, it makes me proud and this has to be clear to everybody,” Conte added.
“For this reason, I want to fight until the end with my players. In the last period, we were sleeping maybe because we were losing some characteristics from last season.
“I spoke with my players, and I have good players but especially good men. They understand we have to fight until the end for important positions, we have to be ready to suffer.
“When I accepted to become Tottenham manager, I was happy, and I am happy. In every moment and every second of my day, my first thought is for my players and club to improve, to make our fans proud of the team.
“The Premier League is not simple, it is difficult and there are many clubs ready to spend a lot of money on their team.
“We are in the right direction, then we will see. The most important thing for me is to work with my players and to have a good relationship with the club.”