‘My Players Showed Me Heart’

Antonio Conte

New Tottenham boss Antonio Conte says the “heart” shown by his players has given him confidence after the Italian’s first Premier League game in charge ended in a goalless draw at Everton.

The ink on Conte’s work permit was barely dry when he was handed the full Tottenham Hotspur experience on Thursday in a chaotic 3-2 Europa Conference League win over Vitesse that proved a dress rehearsal for his first top-flight outing.

Conte stuck with his famed 3-4-3 formation and named the same XI for a feisty encounter at Goodison Park in which Mason Holgate was sent off late on for the hosts.

The Spurs boss says he has “different reasons to be happy” following a solid display, despite Tottenham failing to register an effort on target for the second successive Premier League game.

“Today I saw the heart of my players, the passion, the will to fight, the will to sacrifice, to understand this was a very difficult moment for us,” said Conte. “And to see this makes me more confident for the future.

“Sometimes you can teach players the tactical aspect and physical aspect, but the heart and passion you either have or not – my players showed me they are in a good position, this is a good point to start.”

Just eight days ago, the commitment of the Tottenham players was being questioned after a hapless 3-0 defeat by Manchester United that proved the end of Nuno Espirito Santo’s short tenure in north London.

Spurs moved quickly to install Conte, the man they hope can bring some long-awaited silverware to the club and someone who has racked up five top-flight league titles since Tottenham last won a trophy – the League Cup in 2007-08.