Antonio Conte tells squad to keep HIM happy with Doherty, Royal and new signing Spence all vying for right-back | The Sun

ANTONIO CONTE has told his squad it is down to them to keep him happy – not the other way around.

The Spurs boss has three players all vying for the same right wing-back berth in Matt Doherty, Emerson Royal and summer signing Djed Spence.

On the face of it, it adds up to a selection headache for the Italian, who also deployed winger Lucas Moura in that position in pre-season.

Conte was asked ahead of Spurs’ curtain-raiser at home to Southampton on Saturday whether he would be able to keep the contingent content with only one starting spot available.

Yet the ex-Chelsea boss, 53, replied: “But they have to make me happy, no?

“With performances, to bring me to think but who is the better player.


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“You understand? They have to make me happy, no. Not me.”

Conte goes into the upcoming campaign with competition all over the pitch after a successful transfer window which saw SIX new faces arrive in double-quick time.

Out of that half a dozen, Ivan Perisic is the most likely to make his first competitive start for the club against Saints, provided he has fully recovered from a long-standing calf issue.

Yves Bissouma’s chances are deemed very much touch and go after hurting his hamstring during Saturday’s friendly defeat to Roma.

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Clement Lenglet will fight it out for the left centre-back spot with Ben Davies; Conte has called for “patience” over Spence suggesting a slow integration into the first-team; goalkeeper Fraser Forster is back-up to captain Hugo Lloris and Richarlison is suspended.

Yet even if the starting XI Saturday looks identical to last year’s, Conte is very happy with life at Spurs right now.

That is because he feels he has been backed properly in the transfer market, which has supplemented the world-class forwards in Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min that he already has at his disposal.

The former Premier League winner is aiming to make Tottenham “competitive” in every game this campaign and see where it takes them.

He said his team’s target this term is not to close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool, but to perform better than last season.

But the former Inter Milan chief did suggest that those two juggernauts were at a big advantage because their managers had been in post for so long.

Liverpool chief Jurgen Klopp arrived at Anfield in 2015 while Pep Guardiola is into his sixth year with City.

Conte has only been in North London for nine months but agreed that the only way for Spurs to compete with the two runaway leaders is by having a manager for a similarly lengthy stint.

He explained: “I think so because if you are with the same manager for many years and you give continuity, and you continue an idea and you continue a vision, then for sure it's the best situation for the club to improve and to grow season by season.

“Because then the vision is one, it's not a different vision with another manager.

“For sure, to have a coach for many years, you reduce the time because you give continuity in the work together – the manager, the club and the players.

“I think that this is important. For me, after seven months, it's easier now to work with the players because the players know what I want and now we can work on other aspects to implement their football knowledge and we grow, in the tactical aspect, the physical aspect and the mentality aspect. Because you know each other and I think it is very important.”

Conte’s comments were fascinating given he is the man in situ at Spurs but has a history of short stays at clubs, such as his one year at Inter and two seasons with Chelsea.

When asked if he could reconsider his trend of hasty exits and stick around for the long-term with Spurs, Conte pointed out that to do that he would need the club’s hierarchy to maintain their honest relationship with him – unlike his previous clubs.

He replied: “I think first of all, I need to stay well in the club. I like always honesty.

“If you tell me one thing then you have to respect this. Otherwise I don't like people who say one thing to me at the start and during the season or after one year or two years they change the situation.

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“I don't like this. I like honest people and also if they have to tell me the bad truth, it has to be the truth, not a good lie.

“Because if you tell me a good lie, you don't have a lot of life with me, because I hate lies and I hate liars.”

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