Perisic delivers Conte backing and urges Tottenham stars to ‘listen’

Conte last night offered a robust defence of his tactics and selections in a punchy pre-match news conference here in Frankfurt, following Saturday’s 3-1 derby defeat to Arsenal. The Italian defended his decision to overlook wing-backs Djed Spence and Matt Doherty in favour of Emerson Royal and dismissed suggestions his side are too negative.

Perisic won an historic title under Conte at Inter Milan in 2020-21 and revealed the Italian was the main reason he chose to join Spurs on a free transfer in the summer.

“Everyone knows that our coach won trophies at all the clubs in the past and he likes to win,” Perisic said, ahead of tonight’s Champions League game against Eintracht.

“This is the reason I came to England. I also want to win and I also want to show that we can do a lot of good things at Tottenham. I think we are in a good way and we just have to continue every day working hard and listen to our coach.

Support: Tottenham boss Antonio Conte has the full backing of summer signing Ivan Perisic

/ Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

“The club, the management is important, the coach is important, the humility of the team, a lot of good players with a winning mentality also. You have to build a good atmosphere in the club. If you don’t have all of this, I think it’s going to be difficult to win something.”

Conte has been reluctant to use summer signings Spence and Yves Bissouma so far, although the midfielder is pushing for only a second start tonight, with the head coach considering a switch to 3-5-2 formation.

Conte was initially unconvinced Perisic could play as a wing-back at Inter, and the Croatian was sent on loan to Bayern Munich before returning to be a key part of their title- winning side.

“It was tough [for me] in the beginning [under Conte],” he said. “I spoke with all the [other] new players and they have to know that they came to a big club and they have to be patient, work every day and wait for their chance. When the chance comes, they have to play well. Only like this they can help the team to win the games.”

Last night, Conte went on the offensive when told fans were wondering if Spence, the £15million summer signing from Middlesbrough, would be given a chance after Emerson’s red card at Emirates Stadium. “We are talking about a young player with a good prospect, but I try to pick the best team,” Conte said. “Also Doherty last season played every game. Now I’m not seeing him in the right way to start the game. I’m not stupid, I don’t want to lose.”

Conte also rubbished suggestions his side are too defensive, saying: “[If you are too open] you can concede six, seven or eight goals in England, that happens a lot. In my career [it’s] never happened and I don’t like to play open and concede a lot of space and goals. I think I can teach football to many people.”

Perisic added that Spurs did not do enough to win the north London derby and says they must improve against the Europa League holders this evening. “We have to play better, we have to run more and we have to fight for the club,” Perisic said. “This is what we didn’t do in the last game. I believe in my team-mates, my coach, and I think we’ll show [it] tonight.”

Spurs will again be without Dejan Kulusevski (hamstring), who has not travelled but could be back for the weekend visit to Brighton, and Lucas Moura (inflamed tendon). Bissouma could play as a third central midfielder, with Heung-min Son or Richarlison partnering Harry Kane up front.

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