Antonio Conte warned Tottenham cannot expect Champions League football to be sealed with just a couple of months of work and one transfer window.
Spurs have been revitalised since Conte’s arrival as the former Inter head coach became the first manager in the club’s history to remain unbeaten through his first seven league games in charge.
That unbeaten streak leaves Spurs in seventh, just five points behind fourth-placed north London rivals Arsenal, though Conte’s side boast two games in hand over the Gunners.
However, Conte attempted to quash the expectations on his team as he warned that Spurs’ recent form, or possible transfer activity in January, does not guarantee Champions League qualification.
“Honestly, and I have been in football for many years, you get into the Champions League after years, not two or three months and one transfer window,” Conte told reporters on Friday.
“There are other teams that are doing important things and this will be very difficult. It means that someone else must fail for there to be a place. [There are] four big teams that are favourites as well as other teams.
“[It does not take] only one transfer market and it’s a switch, football is complicated and it’s not just about money.
“I am here to build something, but I know it will be difficult. Everyone asks about the Champions League, but I want to be honest with everybody, we must build something.
“But we need time and patience. I am sure after my first two months.”
Starting 2017 with a win at Vicarage Road!
Same again in 2022? pic.twitter.com/9rCR7VqomB
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) December 31, 2021
Conte reiterated that patience was needed ahead of the transfer window as he referenced numerous planning meetings with the Spurs board as they look to develop their squad in January.
Spurs face Watford next on Saturday as they aim to extend their seven-game unbeaten streak and make up further ground in their chase of the top four.
Conte will go up against his veteran compatriot Claudio Ranieri, whom he expressed admiration for, though he urged Spurs to respond to their poor performance in the 1-1 draw with Southampton.
“Claudio is an important manager who has shown that in his career, many experiences in many countries, which shows he is an important manager with great experience,” he added.
“I have great respect for him and our families are friends, he did something wonderful with Leicester [City].
“We missed a chance in the last game to get three points, we were a bit unlucky but at the same time we can do much better when we had superiority. We need to ask more of ourselves, only in this way we can improve our level and increase the level of the team.”