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Antonio Conte responds to Jurgen Klopp criticism

The Liverpool boss was unimpressed by Tottenham’s approach at the weekend.

Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte on the touchline during the Premier League match at Anfield.
Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte on the touchline during the Premier League match at Anfield.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

ANTONIO CONTE says Jurgen Klopp was looking for an “excuse or an alibi” when he criticised Tottenham’s style of play following their 1-1 draw on Saturday.

Spurs were more than worthy of their point after they put in a resilient defensive display to stop the title chasers and they could easily have left Anfield with all three points had they been more clinical in attack.

Klopp, clearly frustrated at dropping two points in the title race, said afterwards: “I don’t like this kind of football, but that is my problem. I cannot coach it.”

Conte claimed his counterpart was trying to find excuses and should have kept his focus on his own team.

“Jurgen is an intelligent person, very clever,” the Italian said.

“He was a bit frustrated after the game, but at the same time for every coach, it is important to learn to be focused on your team, not the opponent. It means you want to find an excuse or an alibi because your job didn’t work or something was wrong.

“I have respect for Jurgen and I know he respects me a lot and this is a good chance for him and me to learn that during the game you never have to speak about your opponent. It is important to be focused on your team.

“Honestly, for the coach it is not simple after the game, you have to try to keep your head cool.

“Sometimes it is not easy and many times if you remember this season I was disappointed with the result and myself and my players.

“When we lost against Burnley if you remember I gave to myself the fault of the defeat. Sometimes we are a bit frustrated, especially at the end of the season when a bad result can change an important target for you.”

The draw at Anfield, while an impressive performance and result, hurt Spurs’ Champions League hopes, which are on the line against Arsenal on Thursday night, where a Gunners win would guarantee them a top-four finish.

After the game on Thursday night Spurs are back in action at 12pm on Sunday – the shortest turnaround possible – and Conte suggested the club should not have accepted the kick-off time.

“If I complain about it, I’m like other coaches in the past,” he said. “You remember when (Arsenal boss Mikel) Arteta complained about this type of situation and I said coaches shouldn’t complain.

“Now could be my turn to complain because to play on Thursday night and then again the first game (on Sunday), you could play on Sunday and wait and give us the last game and a bit more rest.

“It’s difficult sometimes to accept Premier League decisions, but if the club accepted it I have to. A top club have to pay attention to the fixtures.

“Before the game, you don’t think this situation can cause you this type of trouble, but afterwards you realise it could affect the result and you are angry and it’s too late.

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“You need to be angry before. The club has to pay more attention. If you want to win you have to take care of all the details because the details move the final result.”

Thursday’s game was originally due to be played in January, but Arsenal asked for the game to be called off due to a shortage of players – a decision which led to changing of Premier League rules after it emerged they only had one Covid case.

“To speak now about what happened in the past is not useful,” Conte added.

“For sure, it was very strange that our game was postponed for Covid and Arsenal didn’t have one player with Covid.

“We lost a game 3-0 [to Rennes] because the Premier League didn’t want to move our game when we had 9 or 10 players with Covid.

“At that time, it was unfair what happened.

“But now this is the past and we have to be focused on the present and try to get the best result.”

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