You said it would be crazy to drop Son, was that the perfect example of why?
(Laughs) Yeah, but it is always very difficult when you have an important player and you know very well that during a season there are different periods and sometimes you have a lot of confidence and everything you try to do on the pitch you are able to do and sometimes the confidence can go down but the important player, the top player is good to manage this moment and Sonny you’re talking about a really, really, player who is really, really good, an important player but at the same time a good person.
He suffers if the performance is not good but especially if we don’t get three points. I think this must be our first thing, not to think to yourself but to think for the team. I’m playing not so good and it’s a pity for the team not only for yourself, but I repeat about him he is an important player for us and he showed today that he is an important player and I have seen a lot of links between him, Harry [Kane] and [Dejan] Kulusevski but also with Lucas [Moura]Steven Bergwijn and we are working a lot on this aspect.
I’m seeing a lot of improvement today in [Dane] Scarlett honestly if I have to tell you. Seeing that this guy is improving a lot, he’s only 17-years-old but I can tell you that he is a really important prospect for Tottenham. He has to be patient and work behind these very important players and continue to work in this way because about Scarlett, I can tell you that I see a brilliant future for him.
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People talk about Harry Kane’s goals but that’s 51 assists now, does he get the credit he deserves for that?
Yeah but he is brilliant in both phases, when he has to score and also when he makes an assist. He is two players in one because he can be a number 10 or he can be a number nine and it doesn’t change. It was a pity because today he deserved to score another goal and he had the chances to score his goals and improve his record and to give us more calm to finish the game before. Instead we waited to score the third goal only 10 minutes from the end.
I think if I have to find a situation we can improve, it is to try to kill the game early also because otherwise a corner, a set piece, West Ham could draw a game that I think we dominated today. We played a really good game and as a coach I enjoyed to watch my team play this football today.
You spoke in the week about the importance on the pitch of Son, Harry and Hugo Lloris, how important are they in the dressing room in leading this team in the top four push?
But now in our dressing room there is only one target in our mind and I wanted this to happen because it’s right if you want to try to improve the mentality it is right to start under pressure and it has to be positive pressure for us. For this reason I wanted to make this target, the race for fourth place.
We know very well the difficulty to reach this target but it’s right to start because Tottenham needs to have the ambition to play in the best competition. I know very well that in England it is not simple because I always say that in this moment there are four teams that are very, very top in my opinion – City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool – but if one of these four teams has a struggle, this season it happened with Manchester United, last season it happened that Liverpool struggled a lot and then we have to try to stay there.
We know that there is Arsenal that has in this moment has taken advantage on the table and they’re showing great stability and then there is also West Ham and United but we want to try to fight to have this target. To have this ambition is important, to ask to all the players but especially the important players because they have to take the responsibility to transfer this message, to trust and to show confidence and I think this message has passed.
How big an achievement would it be to get top four?
You know very well that I like to fight, I like to fight to win and to win in this case, to win a Premier League. I like to fight to be competitive, to have the possibility to fight and then you know very well only one team is able to win but I think that my past gives me the chance and also I think I deserve to have this chance to fight to win.
But for sure now I am enjoying a lot the work I am doing with these players, with Tottenham because for sure I have taken in this moment a level lower than the top team that there are in this league, but I’m enjoying a lot to see the improvement and today honestly I asked my players I want to enjoy seeing you play football and now I am seeing we are a really good team. Now I am ready to play every game and to play against every opponent and I’m sure that today is a very difficult to play against us.
Are you now relishing the opportunity to put pressure on Arsenal?
The only way to put pressure to Arsenal is to get three points, to win. There are nine games to go and for us every game has to be a final and in this moment for sure they have a good advantage, also especially because they’re working with the same coach for many years and they have many transfer markets with the same coach. Maybe they are in this moment more ready than us but in five months we did a fantastic job with these players and now I think that we reduced the gap with many teams in England.
One example, two months ago we played against Chelsea three times and we lost three games but it was right to lose these three games because Chelsea showed to be better than us in every aspect. After two months now I would like to have another chance to see which is our level and I’m sure now our level has improved a lot and now I’m sure that Chelsea could fight much more to win the game against us than before.
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Did you see a different mentality in your team in the second half?
Yes but I have seen great improvement about the mentality but also technically, tactically. About the mentality, we are starting to understand how to manage 95 minutes in different way and today when West Ham tried in the first minutes of the second half to try to push us and to increase the intensity we overcome this period and controlled the game. This means we are also improving in the mentality and to understand the importance to win the game, to manage many parts of the game.
I repeat, I’m seeing a lot of improvement and I’m happy for my players because the staff and I we worked very hard and try to push every day the players because the only way to improve the team and level of every single player and it has happened in Tottenham because the level of every single player is improving and in this way the team is becoming a strong team.
How will you use the international break? Will you use it to give your players a rest or is there still a lot of work to do?
For sure, you’re right, honestly it’s a pity to have the international break in this moment because in this moment we are in good form, in a good moment about the results, the performance. But I know very well there is an international break and with the players that have to go with the national team we will see them after nine days, ten days but with the others we prepared two different situations of rest.
Before two days to rest and then to work and then other two days to rest and start work again. But for sure we want to try to exploit this period for those not going with their international team to try to continue to improve on the technical and tactical aspect.