Antonio Conte says Jürgen Klopp was looking for an “excuse or an alibi” when he criticised Tottenham’s style of play after their 1-1 draw on Saturday.
Spurs were more than worthy of their point after they put in a resilient defensive display and could easily have left Anfield with a win had they been more clinical. Klopp, frustrated at dropping two points in the title race, said: “I don’t like this kind of football, but that is my problem. I cannot coach it.”
Conte said his counterpart was trying to find excuses and should have kept his focus on his own team. “Jürgen is an intelligent person, very clever,” he said. “He was a bit frustrated after the game, but at the same time for every coach it is important to learn to be focused on your team, not the opponent. It means you want to find an excuse or an alibi because your job didn’t work or something was wrong.
“I have respect for Jürgen and I know he respects me a lot and this is a good chance for him and me to learn that during the game you never have to speak about your opponent. It is important to be focused on your team. Honestly, for the coach it is not simple after the game, you have to try to keep your head cool.”
The draw at Anfield, although an impressive performance and result, hurt Tottenham’s Champions League hopes, which are on the line at home against Arsenal on Thursday night, where an away win would guarantee Mikel Arteta’s team a top-four finish.
Spurs are then back in action at noon on Sunday – the shortest turnaround possible – and Conte suggested the club should not have accepted the kick-off time.
“If I complain about it, I’m like other coaches in the past,” he said. “You remember when Arteta complained about this type of situation and I said coaches shouldn’t complain. Now could be my turn to complain because to play on Thursday night and then again the first game [on Sunday], you could play on Sunday and wait and give us the last game and a bit more rest.
“It’s difficult sometimes to accept Premier League decisions, but if the club accepted it I have to. A top club have to pay attention to the fixtures. Before the game you don’t think this situation can cause you this type of trouble, but afterwards you realise it could affect the result and you are angry and it’s too late.
“You need to be angry before. The club has to pay more attention. If you want to win you have to take care about all the details because the details move the final result.”