Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte laughed off a suggestion that he has been more subdued on the touchline in recent matches, saying he has been trying to stay calmer in order to teach his players to take more responsibility.
Conte, along with Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp, is one of the more energetic managers in the league, and regularly spends long periods in games raging in his technical area.
Tottenham’s last three matches have been in cup competitions, where it suffered home and away defeats by Chelsea in the League Cup semi-finals, either side of a 3-1 win over Morecambe in the FA Cup.
“You have to ask the referee or fourth official if I was calm against Chelsea,” Conte told a news conference on Friday ahead of his side’s Premier League match against Arsenal this weekend. “He would be surprised by this question.
“During my management (career) I have to try and also to see when I stay calm, (what is) the answer of all my players. I think this is also a strategy.
“I can drive the car but sometimes the driver can stay seated and calm. It’s part of (the) process to give more responsibility to my players.
“If I want to force myself to live the game in another way, it’ll be very, very difficult, but sometimes I have to stay seated and leave my players to make the best decision and face the game during the difficulties.”
Spurs are sixth in the standings, a place and two points below Arsenal but with two games in hand. A victory at home on Sunday will catapult them above their bitter rivals.
Conte said Arsenal was probably at a more advanced stage in their development and that he would use the game to judge how far Spurs had progressed since he took over in November.
“They had more time than us and (Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta) has the possibility to work with the players for a couple of years… maybe for this reason they’re ahead in the project because they have started before (us) with the same coach,” Conte said.
“Arsenal is a really good team, but we want to… play this type of game and we want to know how much we’re improving.”
Spurs are already missing several players due to a combination of COVID-19 cases and injuries. Defender Eric Dier remains sidelined with a muscular problem, while another player is suspected of having COVID-19, Conte added.