Antonio Conte has called on his Tottenham players to rediscover their nasty streak as they try to get their season back on track following a dismal run.
Spurs have lost three of their past four Premier League games to slip six points off the top four and another loss at Fulham on Monday would send them down to sixth in the table.
Their form is in sharp contrast to their strong finish last season, when Conte’s men won eight of their final 11 league matches, keeping six clean sheets, to pip Arsenal to Champions League qualification.
“If I have to analyse what happened before, compared to last season, we implemented football knowledge, the tactical aspect and also the players after one year and a half, there is more connection between them,”said Conte.
“But we have to pay attention not only to improve one side, don’t lose what we created last season, the solidity, the desire to defend the result, the desire to win duels and don’t lose the nastiness.”
The Italian urged his team to toughen up.
“We have to show in every game, to be resilient and this is not simple but I think this is the key, especially in our season, in this type of situation when you have conceded 21 goals in the last 10 (league) games,” he said.
A number of the goals conceded by Tottenham in recent matches have been from individual errors but Conte urged his players to continue to take risks.
“I trust in all my players,” he said. “I have confidence in all my players. They have to be confident in themselves. The mistake is part of football. I accept it.
“I don’t like when I have a player who doesn’t try to take a risk, only to protect themselves. I always say to my players ‘you have to take the responsibility’.”