Manchester United's search for a new permanent manager continues.

The Red Devils parted ways with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer last year after an underwhelming campaign despite the return of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ralf Rangnick has taken over on an interim basis, buying United time to get the right man for the job.

TOP STORY - MAN UTD 'SOUND OUT' TEN HAG

Manchester United have "sounded out" Ajax boss Erik Ten Hag through intermediaries with no formal approach yet, claims Sky Sports.

Ten Hag along with current Paris Saint-Germain head coach Mauricio Pochettino are believed to be the two lead candidates for the top job at Old Trafford.

The report claims the Dutchman would be keen to speak to United if they make a formal approach.

 

ROUND-UP

- Italian champions Inter are ready to allow Alexis Sanchez to exit the club in mid-year reports Calciomercato. The 33-year-old's contract at San Siro runs until 2023 but Inter are keen to get his hefty wages off their books.

- England international Joe Gomez will seek a move away from Liverpool at the end of this season, claims 90min, as he seeks more regular game-time, having been a bit-part player this term. Leicester City, Tottenham, Newcastle United and West Ham are all interested.

- Brighton and Hove Albion are leading the race to sign Chile international Ben Brereton Diaz from promotion hopefuls Blackburn Rovers, claims TEAMtalk. Crystal Palace, Everton, Leeds United and West Ham are also interested.

- Mundo Deportivo reports that West Ham are interested in signing former Barcelona, Milan and Everton winger Gerard Deulofeu from Udinese.

- Fichajes claims Wolves are in talks with Shakhtar Donetsk's Pedrinho about a move to England, with players from Ukrainian clubs able to seek free transfers.

Antonio Conte has expressed sympathy over the situation at his former club Chelsea after owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK government.

Abramovich, who has previously been photographed with Russian president Vladimir Putin, had his assets frozen on Thursday, with the decision made in the wake of Russia's ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

Chelsea have been granted a special sporting licence to be able to continue trading as a football club, but measures have been placed upon them, including a ban on selling tickets, with only season-ticket holders permitted to attend matches.

Tottenham manager Conte spent two seasons at Stamford Bridge between 2016 and 2018, winning the Premier League in his first year and the FA Cup in his second term, before being sacked at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.

Speaking at a media conference ahead of Spurs' trip to Manchester United at the weekend, the Italian said the situation is a "pity" for the players, the manager and the fans.

"Honestly, I have just listened to this situation," he said. "It's not easy. It's not easy.

"It's a pity also because I was coach in this club, in Chelsea. I enjoyed two seasons [there]. Also, I won two titles. It's a pity to listen to this situation. 

"It's not simple for the players, it's not simple for [head coach] Thomas Tuchel, for the fans, for the whole environment.

"Honestly, I hope that in general that this situation between Russia and Ukraine is going to finish and to find peace, because it's much too important.

"Other situations that are coming from this conflict, I think that it's not right. I hope for the best, for this club, because I worked in this club, I enjoyed the two seasons.

"For sure, I love the team, the club that I worked in the past. Every team that I worked in the past, I hope for the best for them."

The Premier League confirmed on Thursday that Chelsea's game against Norwich City on Thursday evening would go ahead as planned, while the club pledged to work with the UK government to ensure business as usual where possible.

Much has changed in European football in the past five years – and few clubs illustrate that greater than fallen giants Barcelona.

On this day in 2017, Barca were thrashing Paris Saint-Germain 6-1 in the most remarkable Champions League turnaround ever, becoming the only side in the competition's history to overturn a four-goal first-leg deficit.

Now, Neymar and Lionel Messi – the two stars of that Blaugrana side – are preparing to play Real Madrid as PSG players.

Meanwhile, Barca are not even in the Champions League knockout stages, instead facing Galatasaray in the Europa League last 16 while battling to return to UEFA's flagship competition next season.

Indeed, Barca's recent European past has found them on the wrong end of epic Champions League comebacks, but that PSG classic still ranks among the tournament's greatest two-legged recoveries – remembered by Stats Perform here...

2019: Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona (4-3 on aggregate)

One of a couple of examples Barca fans will not remember so fondly, Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool had been well beaten at Camp Nou, with the 3-0 scoreline flattering the Catalans but making them clear favourites to complete their semi-final task at Anfield.

Liverpool were without injured forwards Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino for the second leg, yet two goals each from Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum saw the hosts defy the odds in sensational style.

Origi had the final word thanks to Trent Alexander-Arnold's quick thinking from a 79th-minute corner.

It meant a Barca side boasting Messi and former Liverpool stars Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez were left devastated, while Klopp's men celebrated reaching the final, where they would win a sixth title.

2019: Ajax 2-3 Tottenham (3-3 agg)

The night after Liverpool's win, Ajax looked certain to join the Reds in the final when they extended their 1-0 first-leg lead to 3-0 in Amsterdam with first-half goals from Matthijs de Ligt and Ziyech.

Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham took inspiration from Liverpool's stunning fightback 24 hours earlier, though, and Lucas Moura stepped up to emerge as their hero.

The Brazilian forward scored an improbable hat-trick in the second half, the vital third goal coming deep into stoppage time, as Spurs won on away goals.

2018: Roma 3-0 Barcelona (4-4 agg)

Barcelona were stunned in the Italian capital as Roma completed one of the most unlikely quarter-final turnarounds – another that benefited from an away goals rule that has since been scrapped.

Eusebio Di Francesco's side came back from a 4-1 first-leg deficit to progress to the last four after a thrilling 3-0 win in front of their home fans.

Edin Dzeko, Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas secured the 4-4 aggregate draw and sent the Stadio Olimpico into raptures, as Barca fell to pieces.

2017: Barcelona 6-1 Paris Saint-Germain (6-5 agg)

Those humblings at the hands of Roma and Liverpool make for painful memories for those of a Blaugrana persuasion, but this remains the ultimate 'Remontada'.

Trailing 4-0 from the first leg of their last-16 tie with PSG, Suarez and Messi scored either side of a Layvin Kurzawa own goal, only for Edinson Cavani to grab what was expected to be the decisive away goal for the visitors.

However, two quickfire Neymar goals – the second a highly controversial penalty after an apparent Suarez dive – brought it back to 5-5, meaning Barca needed just one more.

Then, in the fifth minute of stoppage time, Sergi Roberto struck from Neymar's cross to create Champions League history.

2004: Deportivo La Coruna 4-0 Milan (5-4 agg)

Deportivo were among Spain's major forces just after the turn of the century and one of their finest moments in Europe came in April 2004 when, despite being 4-1 down from the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final with Milan, they stunned the Rossoneri at the Riazor.

Walter Pandiani, Juan Carlos Valeron and Albert Luque had Depor ahead on away goals before half-time, with veteran Fran Gonzalez scoring the fourth to make sure of their passage.

Depor were eliminated by eventual winners Porto in the semi-finals, but this comeback stood as arguably the very best in Champions League history until Barca went one better.

2000: Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea (aet, 6-4 agg)

Barca already had a history of Champions League fightbacks.

A 3-1 first-leg loss at Stamford Bridge – having trailed 3-0 – had the Blaugrana in danger of being on the wrong end of a major Champions League upset prior to Chelsea's Roman Abramovich era, but in the return match the Catalan giants showed their true class.

Tore Andre Flo's 60th-minute goal was sending Chelsea through despite Rivaldo and Luis Figo scoring before the break, but Dani Garcia headed home seven minutes from the end of regulation to force extra time.

Rivaldo atoned for an earlier missed penalty by converting from the spot after Celestine Babayaro was sent off, and Patrick Kluivert finished the game off, crushing Chelsea's dreams.

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte says qualifying for the Champions League would be like winning the Premier League title for Spurs.

The former Chelsea and Inter boss took over at Spurs in November but has been forthright in his scathing assessment of the club's situation which he said surprised him.

Conte became the first Spurs manager to go unbeaten in his first eight games in charge but progress has stalled after an underwhelming January transfer window.

The Italian had previously remarked that Tottenham had a "one per cent possibility to finish fourth" but Monday's 5-0 win over Everton saw Spurs draw level on 45 points with sixth-placed West Ham United and sit three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.

"You know I don't like to speak about ambition and reaching a place in the Champions League because I like to play to win the league and win trophies, but in this situation this could be our Champions League, our Premier League title if we are able to reach fourth place," Conte said at the post-game news conference.

He added: "Now we have 12 games to play until the end of the season,' he said. 'I listen and you ask me in every press conference about the top-four race.

"I said to my players that it's right to take responsibility about this because I think that from when I arrived to now we are stronger.

"In January two players made us more complete. I think that we can fight. We can fight for this target. It's important to have this ambition and it's not right to hide our ambition and we'll see what happens.

"We'll try to do everything and at the end we'll see what happens. Now we have only 12 games to play, not a trophy to play for. For this reason it's right to take the responsibility, me, myself, I have to be the first."

Conte's side have won three of their past four Premier League games, including winning 3-2 at leaders and champions Manchester City. The Italian told Sky Sports after the game his expectations have elevated.

Everton boss Frank Lampard took few positives from the humiliating defeat at Tottenham, but stressed he is ready for the challenge of a relegation battle.

Harry Kane scored twice as Spurs ran riot in north London, winning 5-0 to condemn Everton to their 14th defeat in their last 18 Premier League games.

Everton sit 17th on 22 points with 13 games remaining. It is their lowest points tally at this stage of a top-flight season in the club's history.

While Lampard was not able to take anything upbeat from his team's display on Monday, he emphasised the importance of staying united and positive heading into crucial home games against Wolves and Newcastle United. Indeed, Everton need to make the most of their home matches, considering they are now winless in 11 successive away games in the league.

"We have to think of the bigger picture, [there are] 13 games to go, for us, eight of those at home," Lampard told Sky Sports. "Teams around us are having difficulties but that's where we're at. 

"Before I came in there were issues and they are becoming clearer, but it's important the positivity stays, but not stupid positivity, there's nothing positive about tonight apart from maybe Anthony Gordon. 

"I have no problem with the challenge, I knew what it was, the general feeling has been very good and we can't lose that because people will throw things at us for one bad game.

"I had 20 years as a player. I had 50, 100 periods like this. Everything is relative. It is important you stick together and work hard.

"I am confident, [but] that doesn't mean anything. I didn't walk into the building with a magic wand. 

"The feeling at this club when I came here was we could be going down, it was clear around the club and city, it was up to me to change that and I thought we had changed that, but this is a test of that.

"I can't wait for the next two games at Goodison. I will be ready for them, the players will be ready for them, they have to be ready for them."

Everton's main issues came in defence, with Michael Keane and Seamus Coleman particularly poor. However, they failed to create a meaningful chance or have a shot on target, finishing the match with an expected goals (xG) of 0.26.

Harry Kane was delighted with his own performance after surpassing Thierry Henry's Premier League goals tally as Tottenham thrashed Everton 5-0 on Monday.

Kane netted twice in a dominant Spurs win to overtake the Arsenal legend's total of 175 Premier League strikes, volleying home his 176th in the competition shortly before the hour against a dire Toffees team.

After beating Leeds United 4-0 in their last outing, Spurs have scored four or more goals in consecutive league games for the first time since December 2018, and their haul of nine goals in their last two top-flight games equals the tally they managed across their previous seven.

The Spurs captain, who has registered 11 goal involvements in his last 12 league games (nine goals and two assists), was delighted with his double after Antonio Conte's men sealed a dominant win.

"No game in the Premier League is easy," the 28-year-old told Sky Sports. "Credit to how we set up and [how] we punished them on the break. 

"All in all, [it was] a really good Monday night.

"It is all about getting those chances and I am always confident I am going to hit the target. I always try and keep the ball low. Hard work and practice, it is no secret.

"Over the last few years, my game has changed a bit in terms of dropping into the pockets. I played as a number 10 in the youth team, as teams and managers change, you have to adapt your game."

Tottenham boosted their top-four hopes as Harry Kane's double helped them to a 5-0 rout of relegation-threatened Everton.

Strikes from Kane and Heung-Min Son followed up Michael Keane's own goal to give Spurs, who crashed out of the FA Cup last week, a commanding half-time lead.

Kane then surpassed Thierry Henry's tally of 175 Premier League goals with a fine volley after substitute Sergio Reguilon had added a fourth with his first touch, as Antonio Conte's side made up ground on their top-four rivals.

The only positive for Frank Lampard was that Kane fell short of matching his own tally in the competition, but matters look bleak for 17th-placed Everton after a 14th loss from their last 18 league matches.

Everton's press seemed to have Spurs on the back foot early on, yet the visitors were behind in the 14th minute when Keane sliced Ryan Sessegnon's cross into his own net.

Making his 200th Premier League appearance, birthday boy Jordan Pickford allowed Son's low shot to slip through his grasp three minutes later.

Pickford responded with a fine save from Son, with Kane rolling the rebound wide. Yet the England captain made no mistake when he slotted in after beating a hapless offside trap.

Lampard replaced the woeful Keane at half-time, yet it was Spurs' substitute Reguilon who made an instant impact as he tapped home Dejan Kulusevski's cross 41 seconds after coming on.

Dominic Calvert-Lewin went close to a consolation for beleaguered Everton, before Eric Dier rattled the bar with a close-range header.

Kane nudged himself above Arsenal great Henry in the all-time scoring list nine minutes later, arrowing Matt Doherty's ball across Pickford from a tight angle to add further gloss to a resounding win.

Antonio Conte does not expect Dele Alli to come back to haunt his former side Tottenham when they host Everton on Monday, claiming players usually go "down, not up" when they leave him.

Alli's seven-year spell with Spurs came to an end in January as he left for Goodison Park in what is said to be an initial free transfer.

Frank Lampard's side will reportedly be obliged to pay £10million for the midfielder after he makes 20 appearances, with subsequent performance-based add-ons that may take the eventual figure as high as £40m.

England international Alli was one of four departures from Spurs last transfer window, with Bryan Gil, Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso all sent out on loan.

Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur were brought in as replacements by Conte, whose side next host Everton in the Premier League, but the Italian is not worried that Alli will make Spurs rue their decision.

"I don't remember a player that when he went away, came back with a great spirit of revenge," Conte told reporters.

"Honestly, I don't remember one. During my coaching, I always try to be honest with the players and give all the players the possibility to show me that they deserve to play.

"I don't remember a player that had their revenge with me. What happens usually is that when players went away they went down, not up."

Alli enjoyed a swift rise after arriving at Spurs from MK Dons, with former boss Mauricio Pochettino describing the two-time PFA Young Player of the Year as the best 21-year-old in the world in 2018.

But after the dismissal of Pochettino, who Alli reserved special praise for when he left for Everton, the midfielder struggled to make his mark under Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo and then Conte.

However, Conte still believes Alli has time to rediscover the form that led him to become a mainstay in the England squad that reached the 2018 World Cup semi-finals.

Asked why Alli's career has been on a downward trajectory, Conte responded: "It is difficult to say something about this, for sure he is still young and his career is in his hands.

"He is very young and he has all the time to take his career again. I really think so. [Alli joining Everton] was a good decision for the player and the club.

"This decision was the best for the player because in the last few years he wasn't playing regularly and I think it was good for him to go to another environment to challenge himself.

"I can tell you that in the period that we were working together I tried to get the best out of him and he was always involved in the training session.

"But in the end, it was a good decision for him and he deserves big respect for what he did for this club in the time that he played here."

Manchester United still appear keen to sign Ousmane Dembele if the winger leaves Barcelona at the end of the season.

Dembele was told he could leave Barca in January after refusing to sign a new contract.

However, no clubs came in for the former Borussia Dortmund attacker, who will instead see out the remaining months of his deal at Camp Nou and looks set to leave on a free.

 

TOP STORY – UNITED ARE DEMBELE'S ONLY SUITORS

According to Spanish newspaper Sport, Dembele's options for when he leaves Barca are limited. In fact, the report claims that United are now the only team interested in the France international.

Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea were among the clubs reported to hold an interest in the 24-year-old previously.

However, according to Sport's report, United are in a queue of one as it stands.

ROUND-UP

- Tottenham are now the favourites to sign Nottingham Forest's Middlesbrough loanee Djed Spence, ahead of Arsenal and Bayern Munich, Goal reports.

- Journalist Raffaele Auriemma told TeleClubItalia that Fabian Ruiz is likely to leave Napoli at the end of the season and that Arsenal have made a proposal.

- AS, meanwhile, believes that Barcelona could look to sign left-back Alex Moreno from Real Betis ahead of next season.

- Another defender who looks set to join Barcelona is Andreas Christensen. Fabrizio Romano reports that a deal is close for the centre-back to join on a free from Chelsea.

- Fichajes reports that Real Madrid could become involved in a three-way tussle with Barca and Arsenal for Lille forward Jonathan David.

Antonio Conte believes no manager could provide a fast fix for Tottenham's problems, with the Italian citing the club's lack of stability as a recurring problem for decades.

The former Chelsea and Inter boss took the reins at Spurs in November following Nuno Espirito Santo’s dismissal and has endured a run of mixed form since his arrival.

Outstanding highs, such as a Harry Kane-led raid on Premier League champions Manchester City, have been followed by humiliating lows, such as a miserable defeat to Burnley.

A midweek exit to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup has now confirmed another empty-handed season, while their inconsistency means a Champions League berth could be a long shot too.

While Conte stresses he was never under any illusion about the task at hand, he says that he feels no quick fix was ever possible for the club, adamant no coach could change their narrative.

"For sure, to have this up and down I don't like," he said ahead of his side's clash with Everton on Monday. "I always said this from my first day when I arrived.

"Tottenham's story is this, many ups and downs, but to be competitive, to try to win something, to try to fight for something important and become a strong team, the first thing that has to happen is to be stable and avoid these ups and downs.

"To do this and to change this type of situation that is happening for many, many years in Tottenham, it's not simple.

"In a short time it's impossible to do this, not only for me but I think for any manager or coach to come in and change the story in one second. This [is the] story of this club for the last 20 years – especially when this club for 20 years has this type of situation."

More than a reversal of fortunes is on the line for Tottenham when they face Frank Lampard's Toffees in north London, with Conte looking to dodge an unwanted record.

Spurs have lost their last two home league games, last losing three in a row in their own stadium between May and September 2008 under Juande Ramos – it would be a managerial first for Conte.

However, the Italian can take hope from the fact that not only has he never lost to Everton, he has also never conceded a goal against them in five Premier League meetings.

Only Roberto Mancini has faced an opponent more without his side conceding a single goal in the competition's history (seven matches against Wigan Athletic).

Time is ticking down on the 2021-22 Premier League campaign – and indeed on your chances of making up those valuable points in your fantasy football league.

While certain players are a must for any manager with serious prospects of finishing top of the pile (hello, Mohammed Salah), others often go under the radar.

And with a real rarity of all 10 gameweek 28 fixtures taking place across the same weekend – at the time of writing, at least! – it is important you get your selection spot on.

So why not let Stats Perform, led by Opta data, pick out four players – one for each position – that can help propel you up the standings. Come on, trust us.

FRASER FORSTER (Aston Villa v Southampton)

Five games without defeat, including back-to-back victories over Everton and Norwich City at St Mary's, have helped propel Southampton back into the top half of the division.

What makes those successive home wins all the more impressive is that Saints kept two clean sheets, having failed to record a single shutout in their previous 13 league matches.

Forster was in goal for both games and, while he only had to make one save across the 180 minutes, he has prevented the fourth-most goals in the Premier League this term.

Having conceded only 10 times, excluding own goals, from shots worth 13.5 expected goals on target, he has limited opponents to 3.5 goals fewer than expected.

Only Aaron Ramsdale (4.0 goals prevented), David de Gea (7.5) and Jose Sa (7.8) have fared better in that regard in the English top flight this term.

MATT DOHERTY (Tottenham v Everton)

Tottenham may be struggling for consistency, but right wing-back Doherty finally appears to be finding his feet under Antonio Conte – in the league, at least.

The former Wolves defender scored and assisted in the same Premier League game for the first time in Tottenham's most recent outing in the competition against Leeds United.

Doherty now has three goal involvements in his past five league games, also supplying an assist at Leicester City, where he created four chances.

PHILIPPE COUTINHO (Aston Villa v Southampton)

Okay, okay – we know we have already selected Southampton goalkeeper Forster, but hear us out here.

By putting Aston Villa midfielder Coutinho in your side, you are hedging your bets, because if the Villans are to score then they need their Brazilian playmaker on top form.

He has four direct goal involvements in six games since returning to the Premier League in January – only Harry Kane (six) and Bruno Fernandes (seven) can better that return.

That should be of particular concern to Southampton as Coutinho has been involved in as many Premier League goals against them (five – four goals, one assist) as against any other side.

EMMANUEL DENNIS (Watford v Arsenal)

Long gone are the days of Watford being unable to keep a clean sheet for love nor money – the Hornets are now shutout kings under that up-and-coming boss Roy Hodgson.

Well, not quite, but Watford's three Premier League blanks since Hodgson's first game is the joint-most of any side, along with Liverpool, Manchester City and, eh, Burnley.

Now they just need to work on becoming more prolific at the other end of the field, and in Dennis they have a player potentially capable of firing them to safety.

The Nigeria international has scored nine goals and assisted five more in the Premier League this term – only five other players have been directly involved in more.

Victor Osimhen has netted 11 goals in all competitions, prompting admiration from some top clubs.

The Napoli striker is valued at around €80million by the Serie A leaders.

Manchester United are understood to be interested in Osimhen.

TOP STORY – REAL TO RIVAL MAN UTD FOR OSIMHEN

The race for Napoli forward Osimhen is heating up with Real Madrid joining United in pursuit of his signature, according to Calciomercato.

Osimhen's Napoli contract does not expire until 2025 but both clubs are ready to flex their muscles and move for him in the off-season transfer window.

The 23-year-old forward's stock has risen dramatically since Napoli signed him for €70m from Lille in 2020.

ROUND-UP

- Inter are lining up a move for Borussia Monchengladbach's Marcus Thuram as they prepare for Lautaro Martinez to be prized away amid interest from Manchester City, claims The Sun.

- Nicolo Schira claims that Milan have agreed personal terms with Lille defender and Newcastle United target Sven Botman, who has been lured by a five-year deal.

- Barcelona are set to join the race for Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves, who has interest from Arsenal and Manchester United, reports the Mail.

- The Express claims that Aston Villa are interested in manager Steven Gerrard's ex-Liverpool team-mate Luis Suarez along with Milan's Franck Kessie .

- Teenage England international Jude Bellingham has opted to remain with Borussia Dortmund for one more season, claims Bild.

- Kicker claims that Roma have joined the pursuit for Stuttgart's Sasa Kalajdzic along with Tottenham, West Ham, Bayern Munich and RB Leipzig .

- West Ham are interested in Bristol City striker Antoine Semenyo, according to The Mirror, while Celtic are also tracking him.

Tottenham need to discover some "stability" within their performances, says Antonio Conte, but he is staying patient.

Spurs' inconsistency came to the fore again on Tuesday, as Conte's team suffered an FA Cup exit at the hands of Middlesbrough, losing 1-0 to the Championship side after extra time.

It was Middlesbrough's first FA Cup win over Tottenham, in their seventh such meeting, while it was a historic defeat to Spurs – never before had they been eliminated from a domestic cup match after losing in extra time against a side from a lower division.

Since the turn of the year, Tottenham have lost seven of their 13 matches. Among Premier League sides, only Brentford (eight) have lost more games in all competitions in that timeframe.

It is a frustrating issue for Conte, whose team thrashed Leeds United 4-0 on Saturday and beat Manchester City the week before, yet those victories were wedged alongside defeats to Burnley, Southampton and Wolves.

"We need to make this team more stable than it has been in the past. This is still the big problem," Conte told a news conference.

"I'm the coach of this team and when you're the coach of this team your players are the best in the world.

"Then for sure I can consider my players the best in the world but we can work and we can improve for the future and also reflect on this defeat. This defeat has to hurt me, my players and everyone one that works in Tottenham."

Conte has been in a fiery mood in recent media conferences, especially after defeats. In fact, after the loss at Turf Moor, he seemed to cast his own future into doubt. 

This time, he was more reserved, even when asked what it would be like to end the season without a trophy.

"In this moment I'm the last person, I don't think about myself," he answered. "When I speak with my players, we have to think about 'us', not 'me'.

"For me there is no problem and for me there is the desire, the will, the patience to try to continue to work very hard to improve, to make this team more stable than the past, because I think this is the key that can change the situation."

 

Conte revealed he has been taking a "carrot and stick" approach so far at Spurs.

"Sometimes it's important for the coach, when you have the media conference, there also has to be a strategy," he added.

"Sometimes it has to be strong, sometimes it has to be light.

"My old coaches in Italy, they taught me that the coach sometimes has to use the carrot, sometimes they have to use the stick.

"I have to use the right way. After Burnley [I used the] stick and then we won. After Leeds, [I use] the carrot, [now] we lost! The coach has to be clear in his instruction. I know there is a lot of space for improvement."

Spurs' focus will now switch fully to their bid for Champions League qualification. They host struggling Everton in the Premier League on Monday.

Tottenham became the second high-profile scalp in as many FA Cup rounds for Middlesbrough as Chris Wilder's men won 1-0 after extra time to secure passage to the quarter-finals.

Boro academy graduate Josh Coburn was the hero, firing home superbly in the second half of the additional 30 minutes after coming on as a substitute. 

Antonio Conte's men were hoping to avoid the fate suffered by Manchester United last month, but Spurs ultimately paid the price for their wastefulness as the hosts claimed a memorable victory.

Flashpoints were few and far between in the first 45 minutes, but the contest did generally improve after the interval, with Harry Kane scoring only to see his tap-in disallowed for a foul.

Both sides were indebted to their goalkeepers as the game went to extra time, and Middlesbrough were rewarded for their greater endeavour as teenager Coburn landed the decisive blow.

A low-quality first half provided very little to get excited about until 40th minute when goalkeeper Joe Lumley was beaten to the ball out wide as he flew out of his area, but Matt Doherty miscued his eventual effort as he shot over the empty net.

It was hardly the precursor to a second-half onslaught, however, with Boro the next to go close in the 53rd minute through a free Matt Crooks header that went over.

Spurs finally tested Lumley just before the hour, the goalkeeper preventing Eric Dier's 30-yard free-kick from finding the top-right corner, and Kane had a goal disallowed from the resulting corner after tugging a defender's shirt.

Chances began to flow for both sides towards the end of regulation time, with Paddy McNair's last-ditch challenge denying Steven Bergwijn, while Lumley and Hugo Lloris made crucial saves from Isaiah Jones and Son Heung-min, respectively.

Extra time beckoned and not only did Boro look sharp at the back, they carved Spurs open with 107 minutes played, Coburn smashing beyond the helpless Lloris.

Antonio Conte insists his outburst following Tottenham's recent loss to Burnley was "strategic" rather than emotional as he reiterated his commitment to the Premier League side.

The 52-year-old appeared to question his own future after last week's 1-0 defeat at Turf Moor when stating he was "not good enough" to fix Spurs' problems.

Conte, who signed an 18-month contract with Tottenham in November, later took aim at his squad on the back of a fourth defeat in five league matches.

That led to reports that the Italian could be heading for an early exit from Spurs, but he backtracked on those comments ahead of Saturday's 4-0 win at Leeds United.

Conte has now further explained his remarks, admitting there is a specific intention behind what he says in news conferences.

"I think that you have to understand when there is a strategy or not and not only an emotional moment," he said.

"It is not right to stay here and explain why I talk in a way and after three days I spoke in another way. 

"Maybe I can explain to you, every time we have a press conference there is a strategy behind it, not an emotional moment.

"I understood that was the right moment, after four defeats in five games and winning the game against Manchester City three days ago, to send the right message, a clear message to myself, the club and also the players.

"We have to know we are here to enjoy football, at the same time to improve ourselves, to ask to ourselves for 100 per cent commitment and desire and also to underline that a team like Tottenham does not exist to lose four games in five.

"If someone understood that my words were from an emotional moment, no. In that moment I sent a specific message to the whole environment and it has happened in the past, when I want to push the situation and the environment in the same direction, because I am seeing we can do better, it is not because it is an emotional moment, it is because there is a strategy behind it.

"Maybe I can explain to you, every time we have a press conference there is a strategy behind it, not an emotional moment."

Tottenham moved back up to seventh with their morale-boosting victory at Elland Road, five points off fourth-placed Manchester United with two games in hand.

Spurs switch focus to the FA Cup on Tuesday with a fifth-round tie away at second-tier side Middlesbrough, who eliminated United on penalties in the previous round.

The north London side have not reached the quarter-finals of the competition since 2017-18 and have not won any silverware since lifting the EFL Cup in 2008.

Conte has made clear that he intends to win at least one trophy during his time with Spurs, but he accepts he has a big task on his hands with Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool still involved.

"For sure it's a big challenge for me, for my players because maybe you start this tournament as underdog," said Conte, who has lost only one of his 11 domestic cup matches against sides from a lower division (W8 D2).

"But at the same time you know when you arrive to play this game and you know that there are only four games to reach the final and you start to feel the possibility to see the target, to see the goal close to you and then for this reason we have to try to push ourselves to go ahead in this competition and to try to create problems for the team that usually at this moment they are favourites to win this trophy."

Including replays, Tottenham have never lost to Middlesbrough in the FA Cup (W4 D2), though those two draws have come as the away side in February 1905 and January 2020.

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