Antonio Conte says he is not a “magician” and now understands the size of the job on his hands at Tottenham after they suffered one of the most embarrassing nights in their history.
Conte watched on as his 10-man side were beaten 2-1 by Slovenian minnows NS Mura – the lowest-ranked team in the Europa Conference League who had lost all four of their previous games.
Spurs went down to Amadej Marosa’s stoppage-time goal after Harry Kane had earlier cancelled out Tomi Horvat’s shock opener.
Conte, who was appointed to replace Nuno Espirito Santo three weeks ago, has been tasked with taking Tottenham back to the top table of English football.
“After three weeks I am starting to understand the situation. It is not simple,” he said. “At this moment the level at Tottenham is not so high.
“I must be honest and tell you that after three-and-a-half weeks, I am starting to understand the situation. I can tell you that the situation is not simple.
“It is not simple because in this moment for sure the level of Tottenham is not so high.
“There is an important gap to the top teams in England. Of this we must not be scared. I am here to work, here to improve the situation.
“I know that in this moment we need to have patience, time and I am here because I know there are problems to solve.
“After three-and-a-half weeks, I am happy to stay here but at the same time I must be honest and tell you we need to work a lot to improve the quality of the (current) squad. We are Tottenham and Tottenham in this moment, there is an important gap.
“If someone thinks that a new coach arrives and Conte won in the past and then I am a magician. But the only magic I can do is to work. To bring work and work to improve, to bring my methods, my ideas of football. But we have to understand that we need time.
“I want to be honest that we need to work a lot to improve the situation. We need time and patience. I don’t know what happens in the future but I am here because I am happy to stay here, to work for Tottenham.”
Ryan Sessegnon’s first-half red card did not help matters but Conte still played Harry Kane for 90 minutes and brought Son Heung-min and Lucas Moura off the bench.
Conte has hinted that his squad has limitations that could stop him achieving his targets at the club.
He said: “We have a lot of desire to work but you can work, work, work, work. But you can push a car at maximum level and sometimes it is not enough to be competitive.
“This road could be one metre or 100 metres, I am not scared, I am ready to go and do this path. But at the same time I want to be very honest, we have to work a lot and improve in many, many aspects.
“We have to do better at many, many things. It is important in football to have vision. Where are you now? And what do you want in the future? I am here to help the club in this aspect.
“The club is outstanding outside, to create a stadium but now we start from behind.
“It is important to know this because I am not a magician and after three weeks I have found players that want to work and have great commitment but sometimes it is not enough.”