Antonio Conte cast doubt on Tottenham’s hopes of a top-four Premier League finish and attempted to respond to unrealistic expectations after his side were booed in a devastating 2-0 home defeat to Aston Villa.
Second-half goals from Emiliano Buendia and Douglas Luiz gave the visitors all three points, sending Spurs off to a miserable start to the new year.
Tottenham lost top spot for the 10th successive game and fell to fifth in the table after Manchester United’s win over Wolves.
Even though Conte led the club to the Champions League last season, he described the achievement as a “miracle” and urged him to remain realistic about the club.
“I know what the reality is because I am a coach,” he said.
The club knows exactly how I feel about the situation. The situation was very clear. I continue to work and improve and help you improve the club, create a solid foundation and then grow.
“You have to know that there are clubs that can invest £200m or £300m and others have a different policy and I repeat you have to respect that.
“The policy needs to be very clear to all people, otherwise we would create a situation that is not positive for the environment, to create expectations that are not realistic, honestly.
“I was expecting this moment. Now you have to start fighting hard, because you can slip from the situation in this league quickly.
“If you’re asking me if I’m scared, I’m not. I believe in my job, I believe in these players, but don’t ask me for things I can’t promise you.
Conte arrived at Spurs last November and, despite an inconsistent first few months, managed to help them overthrow Arsenal in the race for the top four last season.
The signings of Clement Lenglet, Ivan Perisic, Yves Bissouma and Richarlison in the summer have raised anticipation and led to talk that they could be in the title race.
But Tottenham were booed after a third home defeat in five games with chants directed at chairman Daniel Levy in the second half.
Conte insisted: “I keep saying that last season we performed a miracle.
“I told the club very clearly because at that point and before to be a title contender because I remember very well that in the summer at the start people were talking about Tottenham as a title contender but in my experience reading that was a little crazy.
“People think you come and win. This can happen with a team that has been used to winning in the past. But if you are not used to it, it means that you have to create this situation and therefore you need time and patience.
“I understand that fans are disappointed because they can say ‘but we’ve been patient for a long time’, I understand that, but the situation is like this. If you want the truth, I can tell you the truth.”
Unai Emery praised his side Aston Villa’s focus after they took their third win in four matches since his arrival.
“Yesterday, December 31, we spent here in London at the hotel and we wanted to show that this afternoon is our priority. The players did very well,” said former Arsenal boss Emery.