Son Heung-min admits worrying Tottenham trend setting in, but has stern message for Conte doubters
Son Heung-min admits that a struggle to score away from home “has happened” to Tottenham a few times already this season.
Spurs started the season with a solid run of form, picking up wins while not proving entirely convincing. That looked like the sign of a classic Antonio Conte team, but problems have now set in.
Indeed, such performances have caught up with Tottenham, who have now won only one game out of the last four.
And criticism has piled in for Conte that he is not letting his attacking players express themselves enough.
Jason Cundy claimed after Tuesday’s 0-0 draw with Eintracht Frankfurt that Spurs are “playing with the handbrake on”.
But, Son has insisted that such criticism is normal for a team who are finally going places with a renowned manager.
“This [criticism] is outside our squad and talking is something we can’t control,” the South Korean told the Evening Standard.
“As a great group, we have to stick together through these tough games. I think these criticisms are because expectations are higher, so we need to be thinking that way, the positive way.
“We know we can do much better, but there are still so many games this season. We need to do much better than we did last night, but I’m still believing that we can.”
Son Heung-min tackles Tottenham criticism
Son himself has also come in for flak for his lack of goals. The 30-year-old shared the Premier League’s Golden Boot last season with Mohamed Salah, scoring none from penalties unlike the Liverpool star.
This term, he has only scored three goals – and they all came in a deadly cameo against Leicester.
Son admitted that he and Harry Kane must deliver the goals to stop a worrying trend setting further in.
“I think we should have scored two or three goals [against Frankfurt], because we had good chances for Harry and me,” Son said.
“This is really frustrating. We know we just need half-chances, but [the ball] doesn’t go [in], and this has happened in a few away games.
“It’s not what I want, but it’s always tough in the Champions League and there’s never easy chances to score. We’re human and there’s still improvement [to come]. It’s really frustrating, but we have to move on to better things.”
Spurs star responds to Conte critics
As for criticism of Conte’s style, Son has insisted that those critics should be careful of what they wish for – if they are Tottenham fans.
“It’s important [to stick with Conte],” he said. “We saw last season that nobody believed we would be here right now. Last season nobody believed we’d be in the Champions League.
“The gaffer always wants more, more, more and as I player I want to follow his way, or you know what’s coming. If we don’t follow him then you know you struggle.
“We have to follow, there is no option because he’s a winner and I think this is what we do – sacrifice and do the hard things.”
Conte must embrace the challenge
Conte has delivered too much success with his previous clubs to ever doubt himself.
That is not a criticism, but an appreciation of his status as one of the top managers in Europe.
He was only at Chelsea for two seasons, but he remains the last coach to deliver a Premier League title and an FA Cup to Stamford Bridge.
Back in his native Italy, Conte has won Serie A titles with Inter and Juventus.
Tottenham therefore need to trust that they have the right man in charge and that he needs more time.
There is of course the lingering uncertainty over his future, given that he has the option to extend his contract which runs out next summer.
But, the fact that Conte has pointed to future transfer windows to improve Tottenham even more is surely a good hint that he is not done at the north London club just yet.