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Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte has criticised fans being for being ‘impatient’ in their 15-year wait to win a trophy.
While once a universally popular figure at Spurs for leading them to a top-four finish at expense of rivals Arsenal, Conte was roundly criticised by supporters during their UEFA Champions League exit to AC Milan.
Trailing 1-0 on aggregate and desperately needing a goal in the final 10 minutes of the second leg of their last 16 tie, Conte decided to replace star forward Dejan Kulusevski with out-of-favour defender Davinson Sanchez.
Nearly 60,000 home fans booed this call, while pockets of Tottenham Hotspur Stadium were heard chanting ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ and even the name of former manager Mauricio Pochettino – 90min revealed earlier this week that Conte is highly unlikely to sign a new contract at Spurs beyond this summer and that Pochettino would be interested in returning to the club.
Conte explained on Friday that he made this substitution to restore balance in the team after centre-back Cristian Romero was sent off.
However, he has also hit back at fans for making their frustrations vocal, insisting it isn’t helping the team.
“It’s not on me to tell if the atmosphere is good or not good. I continue to tell you that here the patience has finished for the fans. The fans want to win a trophy,” he said.
“The patience of the fans has finished and we feel this. I feel this, the players feel this. For sure, this has not helped the situation.
“I said the club knows very well the situation. The situation is not simple. It’s not easy. I repeat because the environment wants to win and in this moment we are not close to do it, in my opinion, OK, yes? This is the reality.
“There is no patience. I ask for time and patience but I see that the patience has finished. Maybe the fans are right, but you don’t build the win in one day, in two days.
“It’s difficult for me to realise this situation. It’s difficult because I am putting everything, me and the staff, to help the club, to try to build something, but at the same time I understand that maybe it’s not enough.”
He added: “I understand that it’s not easy for the club, not easy to invest a lot of money and you are sure to win. Maybe your probability improves but we know we have to fight against top, top teams who put a lot of money into this.
“You have to create the right atmosphere. Not only to invest and to put money to sign new players. This is not the only way to win.
“To win is to create the right atmosphere, the right unity, the right spirit, to be solid, for everybody to have the same idea. To put pressure on ourselves, to stay under stress, to be fatigued and in this way you are preparing the club to win.
“Or you have to believe in a miracle and there is a big, big job to do here. OK? But I am seeing that there is no patience. I can put it all on myself but I don’t want to kill myself.
“I remember very well when I arrived at this club everybody said, ‘now we have Conte – he won in the past, so now we are going to win!’ But we have to win together.
“We have to create the right situation. I can teach you the path to win, but you have to follow me and have patience. I need time and patience and I understood I had that.
“Maybe I do have time, because the club can give me that, but I think there is no patience (from fans) at the club.
“I repeat that makes the situation really, really difficult for me. Maybe my past penalises me, you understand?
“If I was a coach who was a good coach but without a win in my career, I think it would be the perfect situation to enjoy working and growing together, but my past is different. My past brings expectation, high expectation.
“I am really happy to work here and stay here, but at the same time, I have to take all the considerations, also for myself. If I have to put the stress and pressure only to myself, it is not right.”
Tottenham’s Champions League exit was preceded by their elimination from the FA Cup at the hands of second-tier Sheffield United. Spurs have not won a piece of silverwa