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Antonio Conte urged his players to be “dreamers” and said the trophies are the most important thing after Harry Kane aligns with Jimmy Greaves as Tottenham’s record goalscorer.
Kane’s 266pearl His goal for the club he’s represented his entire career was enough for the Spurs to beat Fulham 1-0 at Craven Cottage and put fourth-placed Manchester United three points down despite playing a game alongside Erik ten Hag.
Related: Harry Kane equals all-time top scorer in Spurs’ Fulham win
But Conte was less interested in talking about records and more focused on helping his team rediscover last season’s unity. The Italian player said he wanted to help Kane put an end to his silverware wait and revealed that he held a meeting with his team after he got angry with the way the Spurs defended during back-to-back losses to Arsenal and Manchester City.
Explaining that Kane is playing feverishly, Conte wanted to see some stamina against Fulham after seeing his team conceded 21 goals in their previous 10 league games. The run had cast more doubt on the future of the Spurs manager. Kane’s win would have boosted morale, but Conte wants more.
“We’re talking about a player with great talent, incredible skills,” Conte said of Greaves and Kane’s level of drawing. “Of course I want to help him do something important. To win something with Tottenham. He loves Tottenham. Tottenham is in his heart. It would be nice if we could win something together. It’s important to have this record. But it’s more important if you lift a trophy. I think we have to be dreamers. I talked to the players and said that today should be a starting point for us.”
Conte wants the Spurs, who faced Milan in the last 16 of the Champions League, to be in their game this weekend when they visit Preston North End in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
“After defeats, you can learn a lot more than a win,” said Conte. “After the game against City and Arsenal, it was important to think well with my players and understand that we might have lost something compared to last season. Not on offense. But we lost something on defense. When I speak defensively, I want to talk about the whole team. Resistance, desire, I wanted to see your will to defend the result.
“If we want to be dreamers, we have to know that the FA Cup is a difficult game. If I see this unity, we have time to have another good season. The loss against City was a strange loss. When you concede four goals in one half, that means maybe something went wrong. If you concede 21 goals in 10 games, maybe something goes wrong.”
Kane, who scored a goal just before halftime, was proud of his success. “I was trying to get into a position where I could play for half yards, so maybe squeezing the defender is something that got into my game a little more last year,” the forward said. “I used the defender to turn him around, it was a nice goal. I was able to bend him into the far corner. Luckily he had enough in him. I’ve been playing football long enough to know where the target is. It’s just instinct.”
Marco Silva was close to Fulham’s sloppy first half. “We were clearly the best team for 40 minutes,” said the Fulham manager. “We created two very good chances. I think we lost a bit of control in the last five minutes. We lost the ball very quickly. We lost the ball very quickly after a quick corner and then Kane’s goal came. A great player made the decision but we were punished. We lost our energy in the second half. It’s been a tough second half for us.”
Thinking that Son Heung-min should have been kicked out for fouling Kenny Tete in the first half, Silva added that it was too early to make an update after Aleksandar Mitrovic limped with an ankle injury.