London (AFP) – Tottenham manager Antonio Conte believes it will be a “miracle” if his side qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Spurs are three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal after battling back into the race to finish in the top four.
Manchester United sit one point adrift of Conte’s men in fifth, with both teams having played a game more than the Gunners.
Tottenham can temporarily climb above Arsenal if they beat Newcastle by two goals on Sunday before their north London rivals visit Crystal Palace on Monday.
But Conte still believes it would be a miraculous feat for Tottenham to reach the Champions League after an inconsistent season that saw the Italian hired to replace the sacked Nuno Espirito Santo in November.
“Before it’s right to underline that this target is very, very difficult. We are not the only team that wants to try to do this miracle,” Conte told reporters on Friday.
“There’s also Arsenal, that in this moment has an advantage, and then there is United. United is the team that in this season are struggling a lot.
“There are a top four, who at this moment are stronger clubs than the others, for many reasons. Chelsea, Liverpool, City and United. Last season Liverpool struggled to reach a Champions League place.
“Then Liverpool have taken this place. And this season it depends on United. At the moment we are among the teams that have to try to stay very close and exploit if someone fails this season.”
Frustrated by a series of poor results and a difficult January transfer window, Conte has hinted he could quit Tottenham in February.
However, four wins in their last five league games have put Tottenham’s season back on track.
And finding a way to qualify for the Champions League would completely alter the volatile Italian’s mood.
“If you ask me about the past, about our possibility to reach a place in the Champions League, I could say to do it’d be very difficult,” Conte said.
“Now after five months I’m seeing great improvement of my team and we have to fight until the end.
“To play Champions League next season is important for me, the club, the players, the fans. Everybody.
“Because to play Champions League is totally different to Europa League or Europa Conference League or not playing in UEFA competition.”
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