Antonio Conte urged his players to be “dreamers” and said that trophies are the most important thing after Harry Kane drew level with Jimmy Greaves as Tottenham’s record goalscorer.
Kane’s 266th goal for the club he has represented for his entire career was enough to give Spurs a 1-0 win over Fulham at Craven Cottage and lift them three points below fourth-placed Manchester United, albeit having played a game more than Erik ten Hag’s side.
However Conte was less interested in speaking about records and more focused on helping his side rediscover last season’s unity. The Italian said that he wants to help Kane end his wait for silverware and he revealed that he had held a meeting with his squad after being angered by the way Spurs defended during consecutive defeats to Arsenal and Manchester City.
Conte, who revealed that Kane had played with a fever, wanted to see some resilience against Fulham after seeing his team concede 21 goals in their previous 10 league games. The run had cast further doubt over the Spurs manager’s future. Kane’s winner would lift the mood, but Conte wants more.
“We are talking about a player who has fantastic abilities, incredible skills,” Conte said as he discussed Kane drawing level with Greaves. “For sure I’d like to help him try to do something important. To win something with Tottenham. He loves Tottenham. Tottenham is in his heart. It would be good if together we are able to win something. It’s important to have this record. But it would be more important if you lift a trophy. I think that we have to be dreamers. I spoke to the players and said today has to be a starting point for us.”
Conte wants Spurs, who face Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League, to be on their game when they visit Preston North End in the fourth round of the FA Cup this weekend.
“After defeats, you can learn much more than a win,” Conte said. “I think after the game against City and against Arsenal, it was important to make a good reflection with my players and to understand that maybe we lost something compared to last season. Not in attacking. But we lost something defensively. When I speak defensively, I want to talk about the whole team. I wanted to see the resilience, the desire, the will to defend the result.
“If we want to be the dreamers we have to know the FA Cup is a tough game. If I see this unity we have time to have another good season. The defeat against City was a strange defeat. When you concede four goals in one half it means maybe there is something wrong. If you concede 21 goals in 10 games maybe there is something wrong.”
Kane, whose goal arrived just before half time, was proud of his achievement. “I was just trying to get myself into a position where I can get half a yard, maybe pinning the defender is something which has come into my game a bit more the last year or so,” the striker said. “I used the defender to bend it around him, it was a nice goal. I was able to bend it into the far corner. Thankfully there was enough in it. I have been playing football long enough now to know where the goal is. It is just instinct.”
Marco Silva bemoaned a sloppy end to the first half from Fulham. “We were clearly the best team for 40 minutes,” the Fulham manager said. “We created two very good chances. I think we lost a little control in the last five minutes. We lost the ball too quickly. After a fast corner we lost the ball too quick and after that was the goal from Kane. It was decided by a great footballer but we were punished. In the second half we lost energy. It was a tough second half for us.”
Silva, who felt that Son Heung-min should have been sent off for a foul on Kenny Tete in the first half, added that it was too early to give an update on Aleksandar Mitrovic after the striker limped off with an ankle injury.