Antonio Conte has told his Tottenham players to rediscover their nasty streak in an attempt to get their season back on track.
Spurs slumped to a third defeat in four Premier League games on Thursday when they lost 4-2 at Manchester City.
Inconsistency has blighted Tottenham in recent months and another loss at Fulham on Monday would see them drop to sixth in the table.
This form is in contrast to their strong finish to last season where Conte’s men won eight of their last 11 league fixtures, keeping six clean sheets along the way, to pip Arsenal to Champions League qualification.
“If I have to analyse what happened before, compared to last season, we implemented football knowledge, the tactical aspect and also the players after one year and a half, there is more connection between them,” Conte said.
“But we have to pay attention not only to improve one side, don’t lose what we created last season, the solidity, the desire to defend the result, the desire to win duels and don’t lose the nastiness.
“I repeat in football you can be really good but if you are not strong into the pitch in every moment then you can risk losing, but I have a group of players who are intelligent, they know the situation much better than me.
“They know they have conceded a lot of goals, many goals for a team like Tottenham and they know we have to try to improve and there’s only one way to work, to stay together and be strong.
“I always use a word. A team that wants to win, to be stable has to be a resilient team.
“We have to show in every game, to be resilient and this is not simple but I think this is the key, especially in our season, in this type of situation when you have conceded 21 goals in the last 10 (league) games.”
I think we have to try to improve in this aspect altogether with humility and to find again the nasty (streak) that last season we showed many times.
Tottenham boss Antonio Conte
A number of the goals conceded by Tottenham pre and post-World Cup have been from individual errors but Conte attempted to take the heat off his squad by insisting they must continue to take risks.
He said: “There are periods where maybe there are individual mistakes, it’s normal that it can affect the mood of the team and this type of situation can cost goals, but this is part of football.
“It happened always in football that there is the individual mistake. For sure we have to be strong when there is an individual mistake, don’t lose the confidence.
“I trust in all my players. I have confidence in all my players. They have to be confident in themselves. The mistake is part of football. I accept it.
“I don’t like when I have a player who doesn’t try to take a risk, only to protect themselves. I always say to my players you have to take the responsibility.”
Conte also accepted blame for failing to continue to transfer nastiness to his squad.
Richarlison epitomises the type of will and desire wanted by the Italian, but he was coy about his chances of starting at Craven Cottage following a recent hamstring injury.
It means Son Heung-min, who has struggled this season, could get another chance to arrest his form.
“Maybe I was good to improve football knowledges, tactical aspect and offensive situation. Maybe I was not so good to transfer this (nastiness) to my players,” Conte admitted.
“We attack with all the team and defend with all the team. For this reason, I think we have to try to improve in this aspect altogether with humility and to find again the nasty that last season we showed many times.”