Tottenham coach Antonio Conte said he quickly realized his side were “not that high” after an embarrassing 2-1 loss to Slovenian minnows NS Mura in the Europa Conference League. Spurs will now likely have to beat Rennes at home in their last group game to avoid withdrawing from European third tier competition. And they can no longer catch Rennes at the top of the group, which means they would move up to the bottom 32, while the group winners are parachuted into the bottom 16.
Harry Kane started as one of only two players retained by Conte in Sunday’s 2-1 Premier League win over Leeds, which seemed to kick off Conte’s reign.
However, the Italian received a first lesson in his team’s strength with an embarrassing night in Maribor against a club founded just nine years ago.
“After three weeks, I’m starting to understand the situation. It’s not easy,” Conte said. “At the moment, the level at Tottenham is not that high.
“I have to be honest and tell you that after three and a half weeks I am starting to understand the situation. I can tell you that the situation is not easy.”
Conte has won a league title at each of his previous three clubs during stints at Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan.
His arrival has raised hopes of a Champions League return next season via a Premier League top-four ranking.
But he warned he would need time to raise the standards around the club.
“Someone (might) think a new coach is coming and Conte has won in the past and so I’m a magician. But the only magic I can do is work,” he added.
“Bring work and work to improve, bring my methods, my ideas of football. But you have to understand that we need time.”
Tomi Horvat put the hosts in the lead before Ryan Sessegnon’s red card left Tottenham down for the final hour.
Kane restored parity with 18 minutes remaining, but even the introduction of five first-team holders on the bench in the second half couldn’t stop the superb stoppage winner Amadej Marosa.
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