Antonio Conte said he needs his Tottenham players to start believing in themselves after they fell to a 1-0 defeat at AC Milan on Tuesday which put their Champions League campaign at risk.
Spurs barely created anything at the San Siro and after Tuesday’s defeat in the first leg of the last 16 matchup and the weekend’s heavy loss to Leicester, Conte said it was his job to give his players more confidence.
“I think some players need some more belief, especially in attack. We need to rediscover that belief in we have lost in taking on your man, but there was great effort and desire,” Conte told reporters.
“My job is to give players belief in themselves... we definitely need to try and improve.”
Conte has had to deal with serious injuries to Rodrigo Bentancur and Yves Bissouma, which led to him having to pick youngsters Oliver Skipp and Pape Matar Sarr in midfield.
The Italian said the pair’s performances gave him hope as he will have to do without Bentancur for the rest of the season while Bissouma needs an operation on a stress fracture to his ankle.
“To play this way in the Champions League and in San Siro in this atmosphere... they played a really good game, I’m really happy,” added Conte.
“This type of performance makes me more relaxed for the future because you consider that we could finish the season with three midfielders.
“I know I can count on these two players 100 percent.”
Despite the victory, Milan coach Stefano Pioli was left pondering what might have been as Charles De Ketelaere and Malick Thiaw missed golden opportunities to add to their aggregate lead late on.
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Instead, the seven-time European champion will have to defend a single-goal lead in London next month after a big win which gives it a chance of reaching the Champions League quarterfinals for the first time since 2012.
“Winning 2-0 would have been a better result, because we’ll have an equally difficult match in London if not more so, but I can only be satisfied about the team’s performance,” said Pioli.
“It’s obviously good, but in football it’s the next match that counts. We can take a lot of positives from this match but Saturday (at Monza) we need to get back out there and win again.”