Antonio Conte has told talkSPORT that a top-four finish is just ‘a dream’ for his Tottenham team at present.
The Spurs boss spoke with raw honesty in the aftermath of their 3-2 defeat at Manchester United on Saturday – a game that had been billed as key in the battle to finish in the Champions League places.
Conte’s side performed well for large parts of the match, and came from behind twice to draw back level.
Ultimately though, they were unable to contain hat-trick hero Cristiano Ronaldo whose goals won the game single-handedly.
Spurs now sit 7th on 45 points, having missed the opportunity to put themselves back in contention for Champions League football.
In reaction, Conte told talkSPORT’s Sam Matterface: “Honestly for us, top four has to be a dream, honestly.
“In England there are in this moment four teams stronger, much stronger.
“We have to hope that one of these four teams miss this season.
“And then you have to try to stay very close and to try to exploit this situation.
“I think we are starting a process to improve this team and to try to come back to be competitive.
“It won’t be easy because we need patience and time, but at the same time I think that on the pitch you can see that this team is improving a lot.
“But it’s not enough.”
There were positives to take from the performance as Tottenham caused many problems for Ralf Rangnick’s side.
Tasked with explaining the defeat in these circumstances, Conte added: “To explain is very difficult.
“It’s very difficult because after a good performance and we come back twice – in this stadium against United it’s not easy for anyone to do this.
“But at the same time I’m here to explain a defeat.
“I think we have to learn, to learn about this game and to know that there are many parts of games.
“The start, during the first half, during the second half – you have to push a lot, to bring intensity and to put pressure high.
“And at other moments you have to be more calm, more patient and to show that you are always in control of the game, especially in control of your emotions.”