The Leeds head coach was back facing the media after the international break and ahead of Sunday’s tie against Tottenham and here is everything the gaffer has to say.

Injury news on Firpo, Koch, and Shackleton

They’re not available for the game on Sunday.

Firpo is evolving, he’s healthy. All he needs is minutes now. Koch is further away from returning than Ayling and Bamford.

[Shackleton?] In a similar situation to Firpo, towards the end of the process but always in that process, they need to be match fit to play.

Different Tottenham? Kane England impact?

For a goalscorer to score is always good for them. Having said that, with or without the international goals, he’s a player to be respected. Conte is a manager who has a set style of play distinguished from all other managers.

Conte a new thinker?

He’s a genuine representative in his country of managers. He has triumphed in every team he has managed. A reference in world football, not only in the league he participates in. He’s a coach who gets very high performances from his players. The word innovator is to produce aesthetic things from your team. The way of playing and the style of play. in that sense it’s hard to create things that haven’t been seen before. What does unify all the coaches is the virtues they extract from the players they coach. That demands how you prepare them and to convince them. In those two aspects, to prepare them and convince them, he is a master.

Similarities with you?

To compare him with me is look at our achievements to see the differences.

Main dangers from Conte’s style?

Intensity. The collective sense. Teams that attack with a lot of players, but not because of this do they defend with less players. That’s a virtue that’s very hard to get in a team. The normal thing is those of us who are spectators we observe the aspects that outshine in the game. Those things I’ve named are very hard to achieve, to attack with many without defending with less, or defending with many and with that not meaning you attack with less players. That’s very marked out in the teams he’s managed. Something that stands out and is difficult to achieve.

Looking at Conte’s body of work rather than Spurs?

He’s not a new coach. He’s a recognisable coach in charge of a team with different players. The features of the players are very recognisable. The principles in which he conducts also. It’s probably to imagine, with very few games, the profile of the team.

How has Cooper improved since you arrived?

The virtues he has and the characteristics have always been the same. The evolution has to do with the way he interprets his professional life. The opportunities he had and how he took advantage of them. He earned a place in his national team. He has kept his place in the team at Leeds for four seasons now. What he does to maintain himself and shine is what allows him to keep growing.

Important to track foreign leagues for new coaches?

No, we don’t do that. Imagine the amount of leagues, the amount of coaches that shine. To implement that would be impossible. Also, the managers, the coaches that shine, they are described. For that reason, whenever a new manager comes into the league it’s not hard to interpret their style. Not easy, but possible.

Demands on Raphinha becoming greater – how to balance him and his opportunities?

Another characteristic of the elite players is they are ambitious and the demands/limits they put on themselves, they don’t need an external stimulus to want them to do this.

Raphinha picked up where he left off in 20/21 – how much better can he become?

He is sufficiently good right now. If you ask me how I manage his evolution, I would say to maintain performances like those he is achieving would be a great indicator and the other great challenge the players that shine have, is to transfer that evolution to his teammates and to the team. Raphinha will be a lot better if the team is better and his teammates are better. What I say is not a conclusion elaborated by myself, but a conclusion comes from the players who shine. They start by unbalancing alone, they manage to facilitate how their teammates performed, and that development of the collective game improves the team. That process is a great challenge.

Of the players who went away on international duty, which performances caught your eye?

I’ve seen the performances of all of them. All of them had very important games and they all had positive results. I wouldn’t put one performance above any other.

What can you do on Sunday to ensure Raphinha maintains that potency against Spurs?

More than I do, it’s what he does. Every player that has the capacity to unbalance individually, they have a consciousness of the different type of control receptions in which they can impose themselves. The players that unbalance well is what’s most convenient for them is to receive a lot of balls doing it far away from the markers that they’re up against and to receive the ball more on the move than standing still and managing to take contact with the ball in spaces where the opponent doesn’t expect it and no player that unbalances, ignores how to resolve these issues and receive the ball in good conditions. As much as I say more than the power to eliminate players one-v-one, the virtue that allows them to shine is how they receive the ball.


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