Antonio Conte has claimed his players need to understand that none of them can play in every single game if the club want to compete for silverware on multiple fronts this season.
Despite all his rhetoric about rotation, Conte had been pretty conservative when it came to chopping and changing his side until Saturday’s clash against Leicester.
However, the Italian made some big calls for the clash against the Foxes, with his most high-profile one being the decision to leave Son Heung-min on the bench and start with a frontline of Harry Kane, Dejan Kulusevski and Richarlison.
Conte’s selection call worked in spectacular fashion as Son not only came off the bench to open his account in front of the goal for the season but also went on to net a hat-trick.
The South Korean has certainly not been used to being left on the bench over recent years but Conte insisted that all of the big names at the club need to accept they will be rotated if Spurs are to have the ambition of winning trophies.
When asked about leaving Son on the bench, the Italian told Football.London: “It’s normal, and I want to bring this team to think of a superior level, not to stay in the middle.
“Not to stay at Tottenham because there I play every game, every game, every game. If you think like this, you are probably not going to fight for something important in my opinion.
“We have just started this path with the club. To have Richarlison up front, with Harry, Sonny, Deki and also Lucas, then there is Gil, who is a good prospect and young, it means the situation gives me the possibility to have rotation.
“In the first four games, Richy was on the bench, and then in three games with Deki on the bench, today (Saturday) Sonny was on the bench. When we start to play after the international break, 12 games in a row, for sure, I will make rotation.
“The only thing I ask my players is to give me the possibility don’t drop the level when we make this rotation. We always want a strong team because we want to fight for every competition.”
Conte remarked that he has not hesitated in leaving big players out at any of the clubs he has managed in the past, which includes Chelsea, Inter Milan, and Juventus.
The Tottenham head coach admitted the North Londoners still do not have the bench strength to rival the likes of Manchester City and Liverpool but he was clear that he is going to continue rotating his squad over the coming months.
He added: “Yeah, but honestly, In the past, I did the same in every situation I worked in: Chelsea, in Juventus, in Inter Milan and yeah, when you want to be competitive and fight for something important.
“And I repeat, we have just started our path because, in my opinion, our squad is not still ready to be strong, strong compared with City, Liverpool and Chelsea – then we fight also with Arsenal and United.”
“We have just started, but if the players want to play for something important, to lift a trophy – they have to understand this. Otherwise, they continue to play every game, but they don’t go to win anything. This is clear. Clear.
“It happened in the past here, and I repeat, I want to try and change. I want to try and change to bring this team to another level. I will try to do my best. But I’m not worried about this.
“For sure, it’s not easy. It’s not simple. But I have to get the best decision in every moment. Also, today (Saturday), Romero – Romero was on the bench. I played Sanchez. Emerson played every game until now, then I decided to make a rotation.
“Yeah, I repeat, if you want to stay in a team with ambition, you have to accept this type of situation. Otherwise, you have to go to a medium team, and then you are sure you will play every game. And then it will be very difficult to lift a trophy in this way.”
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This message is clearly intended for the likes of Kane and Son, who have tended to play almost every game under past regimes. Kane, in particular, is the sort of player who insists on playing every game he can, given his hunger for goals.
However, based on Conte’s words, it looks like the striker is going to have to accept being left on the bench for a few Premier League games this season.
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