EPL

Conte: Chelsea are more ready to win trophies than Spurs

By Sports Desk January 03, 2022

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte believes his former side Chelsea are "more ready" to win trophies than his current employers.

Conte returned to London in early November and remains unbeaten in a club-record eight league games since his arrival, pushing Spurs up to sixth and just two points behind fourth-placed Arsenal while still boasting two games in hand.

The former Inter head coach also oversaw a 2-1 EFL Cup quarter-final win over West Ham, teeing up a double-header with Thomas Tuchel's side for a place in the final at Wembley.

Spurs have progressed from six of their last eight EFL Cup semi-final ties, failing only in 2006-07 against Arsenal and 2018-19 versus Chelsea, but Conte believes his former club are better prepared for success currently.

"I think that for everyone it's always very important to win trophies – for the club, for the players, for the managers," Conte told reporters at Monday's pre-match news conference. 

"On one hand, I have to tell you this. On the other, I think you have to build to win trophies. You can win trophies by speaking and saying you want to win. But then you have to be good and build something ready to win.

"I think at this moment, Chelsea is more ready than us to win. They won last season the Champions League. 

"I think we have a lot of space for improvement, to be a team with an aspiration to win. Then for sure, we'll do everything to reach the final of this trophy.

"But I repeat: to use this verb or word 'to win' is more simple than winning because to win you have to build something important, be solid, have an important squad. Then you're ready to win."

 

Conte enjoyed a fruitful spell in charge of Chelsea, leading the Blues to the 2016-17 Premier League title in his first season at the helm before triumphing in the FA Cup the following season.

He then joined Inter, where he again won another league title as he ended the Nerazzurri's 10-year wait for the Scudetto, before returning to England to manage Spurs.

After numerous successes across varying countries and with numerous teams, Conte feels he has nothing to prove as he prepares to return to Stamford Bridge in the first leg of the semi-final on Wednesday.

"I have to thank Chelsea because they gave me the possibility to work in England and have my first experiences in England," he added. "Now, for sure, I'm the manager of Tottenham and I want to give this club 100 per cent and more to try to improve the team. 

"It'll be good and for sure I'll have emotion to come back to Stamford Bridge. We did a really good job and I think in my position I mustn't prove anything to anyone. 

"I'm a manager that has experience and continues to have experience in my career and do important jobs at other teams."

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    That is where the Sacramento Kings have resided for far too long. 

    The Kings own the NBA's longest active playoff drought at 15 seasons with the next closest team (Charlotte Hornets) at just five years. At 18-29 and 11th in the Western Conference, it doesn't appear likely that Sacramento will end that run of futility this year with the 16-season drought becoming the longest in NBA history. The Clippers went 15 seasons without a playoff appearance from 1977-1992.

    Those Clippers at least had a winning season during their dearth of postseason basketball, going 43-39 in 1978-79. The Kings' best record in their sad stretch was 39-43 in 2018-19. Sacramento's last winning season came in 2005-06 (44-38), at the end of a streak of eight consecutive playoff appearances that included the league's best record in 2001-02 (61-21). 

    That success must seem like a century ago to the Kings' beaten-down fanbase.

    The Kings have been something of a vagabond franchise throughout their history, starting as the Rochester Royals in 1948 and winning their only championship two seasons later. 

    The team moved to Cincinnati in 1957-58 and then was shifted to Kansas City-Omaha in 1972, when they were renamed the Kings. Finally, they became the fourth NBA team in the state of California with the move to Sacramento in 1985. 

    Over the last five seasons, including the current one, the Kings rank 24th in winning percentage (.411). Trailing them are Cleveland, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, New York and Orlando, all teams that have experienced the playoffs in that span except for the Eastern Conference-leading Bulls who are headed there this season. 

    That Sacramento have only been moderately awful lately is one of the franchise's biggest problems. While other teams have bottomed out and rebuilt (Cavaliers, Hawks and Bulls), the Kings have wallowed near the bottom without much of a plan to lead them back to their long-forgotten glory days.

    There is a myriad of reasons why the Kings have been unable to reach the playoffs since George Walker Bush was in the White House, but chief among them is an 11-man coaching carousel.

    David Joerger (2016-17-2018-19) coached the most games in that span (246) and had the most wins (98), recently fired Luke Walton had the best winning percentage (.422) and Kenny Natt had the worst (.190).

    Walton was fired on November 21, 2021, after a 6-11 start and a 68-93 record, and replaced on an interim basis by Alvin Gentry. That move hasn't provided much of a spark with Sacramento going 12-18 under Gentry.

    While coaching, of course, plays a major role in any team's fortunes, players are truly what defines a franchise. Because impact free agents aren't flocking to Sacramento the way they do to Los Angeles or Miami, the Kings must hit on their draft picks, and they simply have had too many misses. 

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