By George Sessions, PA
Tottenham boss Antonio Conte gave no assurances over his own future and insisted he cannot create a “miracle” after he watched Spurs’ season spiral further out of control with a Champions League exit to AC Milan.
Milan earned the stalemate they needed to progress 1-0 on aggregate following their last-16 first-leg victory in the San Siro last month with Spurs mustering only two shots on target and ending the tie with 10 men after Cristian Romero’s 77th-minute sending off.
It capped off a disastrous seven days for Tottenham, who exited the FA Cup last week away to Championship outfit Sheffield United and lost at Wolves on Saturday to let slip their grip on fourth place in the Premier League.
Those results along with Conte’s health problems – he had his gallbladder removed on February 1 – have accelerated speculation that the Italian’s tenure is coming to an end and he was cagey about how the coming months looked when quizzed on this latest blow for the north London club.
“This is not the right day to speak about the future but I have a contract with Tottenham and then Tottenham know very well which is my thought and at end of season we will meet and make a decision,” Conte said.
“I have a great relationship with my chairman (Daniel Levy), with Fabio Paratici but it doesn’t mean I don’t tell them which is my vision you understand? Then we will see.
“Now we have to finish the season. I have a contract until June. I am happy to work in Tottenham but at the end will make a decision, OK, but the club knows very well which is my vision, which are my thoughts about the situation.”
This fixture was Conte’s first back on the touchline since the first leg in Milan after doctors ordered him to rest for two and a half weeks having rushed his return from gallbladder surgery.
While the 53-year-old looked closer to his usual animated self on the sideline, his team produced a limp first-half display and were duly booed off at the break, lucky to be level after Junior Messias squandered a fine early opportunity for the visitors.
Tottenham improved in trademark fashion in the second half but still struggled to create opportunities and when Mike Maignan denied Harry Kane’s stoppage-time header, the hosts’ European journey for another campaign was finished and it confirmed a 15th consecutive trophyless season for the club.
Conte added: “The reality is we are out from the FA Cup and now Champions League. Yeah, what I can say is we are working. We are working to try to improve and to go step by step but if someone think in one day, two day, one year, you start to win? It is difficult.
“I know to win you have to build, you need time and to go step by step and to accept this type of defeat. This defeat because I think Sheffield United was unacceptable but today, for the opponent, for the trophy we play, I don’t like to lose but it can happen during a path to this situation, especially I repeat because last season, don’t forget, we play Conference League and two years ago Europa League.
“I am really sorry for the fans, I am really sorry but we cannot invite the win. This is important to know this. We cannot invite the win or hope for a miracle one day that a trophy goes into our training ground or pitch.
“We have to build and have patience. I understand for the fans, they don’t have patience because for a long time Tottenham is not winning but what I can promise is we continue to work really hard for this club to continue to improve and then we see what happen.”
Spurs’ sorrow was delight for Milan, who secured a quarter-final berth in this competition for the first time since 2012.
Manager Stefano Pioli said: “Yes absolutely we deserved to go through.
“We outdid our opponents in both games. They are a tough team to play against but our mental attitude was really good, really strong. We never gave up and this is something we need to take into our league games.”