‘It was difficult’- Cesc Fabregas fires warning to Tottenham players over Antonio Conte demands

Former Chelsea, Arsenal and current Monaco midfielder Cesc Fabregas has warned Tottenham players that playing under Antonio Conte was ‘difficult’ as the Lilywhites prepare for the challenge of Leeds United.

Fabregas, 34, played under the Italian manager for two years at Stamford Bridge, during which time the club won one Premier League title and an FA Cup.

Conte then moved to Inter Milan before finding himself back in the capital but this time with a struggling Spurs outfit who weren’t performing at the right standards under previous boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

Since taking the managerial reins from the Portuguese, the Italian has overseen a Europa Conference League win o0ver Vitesse Arnhem and a 0-0 draw away to Everton, with Leeds their next opponents on Sunday.

Ahead of that contest, the Spurs players have been sent a warning from Fabregas regarding Conte’s intense and ‘difficult’ management style that will push everyone to their limits and beyond.

“I think with Antonio, it was the first time that I’ve seen someone know exactly [what they want] … It was like going to school. I promise you, he will tell you, from the goalkeeper until you have scored a goal, what you have to do, exactly everything,” he told CBS Sport.

“Maybe it’s in a different way to how I saw football. At the beginning, it was difficult for me, don’t get me wrong. A lot of running, a lot of intensity. Big sessions, double sessions, gym sessions.

“I had coaches like Pep [Guardiola] who had a lot of positioning game but we had freedom inside of this. With Conte, the freedom was non-existent, he was telling me where I have to pass the ball.

Cesc Fabregas has warned Tottenham's players what to expect from new boss Antonio Conte
Cesc Fabregas has warned Tottenham’s players what to expect from new boss Antonio Conte

“I’m 29 years old in that moment, I’ve already played for 13 years, I played in every final, I won a lot of things and this guy is telling me where I need to pass the ball.

“I’ve been here a long time, I know everyone and people know me which probably makes people feel a little bit more comfortable in that sense, but the boss and the coaching staff that he’s brought along are top, top people, really professional and hard-working and I’m sure even if I wasn’t here, it would be no different.

“That winning mentality is contagious – you get sucked into it, you live and breathe in the same way.

“The boss is an ex-player who’s won everything, he’s had a successful career as a player, won many trophies and also in recent years he’s won trophies as a manager as well, so that winning mentality that he has and that way that he wants to compete every day, of course I can get on board with that and hopefully that will help everyone to make it a successful time for the football club.”

One player who could take some of this advice on board is midfielder Tanguy Ndombele, who was a topic of discussion in Conte’s pre-match Leeds press conference.

It’s safe to say that the Frenchman hasn’t yet fully justified his £50million price-tag under Jose Mourinho and Nuno respectively, so can the fiery Italian get the best out of the ex-Lyon man?

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Well to do this, Conte himself has demanded the 24-year-old to alter aspects of his game like his work rate if he is to go to the next level under his stewardship, just like Fabregas did.

Speaking ahead of Leeds, the Spurs manager stated: “Yeah, I have seen that many managers struggle about this situation, about the position. For sure Tanguy has the quality. At the same time he has to understand that there is a team and he has to play into the team.

“I think it means that it is important to keep order and to do what the position asks you to do.

“For sure with Tanguy we are working. We are working very hard. He has to work much more than the others, because as you say he has talent but he has to put this talent into the team for the best of the team, not for the single player.

“In my football I have an idea and in this idea there are tasks for the players. Every single player has to know what he has to do. Otherwise if every player just goes and runs around the pitch, I think it will be a mess.”

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