According to Antonio Conte, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was looking “to find an excuse or alibi” when criticising Tottenham’s style of play following Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Anfield.
Spurs became just the second side to stop Liverpool from winning in their past 15 Premier League games and the first at Anfield since Brighton and Hove Albion in October.
Luis Diaz’s deflected 74th-minute strike cancelled out Son Heung-min’s opener.
But the draw inflicted a potentially fatal blow to the Reds’ title hopes.
They now trail leaders Manchester City by three points with three games to go.
Klopp aimed for Spurs’ approach after the game, stating he “could not coach” Conte’s defensive style as he implored Tottenham to do more with their talented “world-class players”.
The German has since clarified that he intended those comments as a “backhanded compliment”.
And Conte says he can understand why his opposite number was frustrated at the weekend.
Conte said at a news conference on Tuesday:
“Honestly, it’s not simple or easy for the coach after the game. You have to try to keep a cool head. Sometimes it’s not easy.
“If you remember this season, it always happened to me when I was disappointed after a bad result.
“Sometimes we’re a bit frustrated, especially when you arrive at the end of the season.
“And understand a terrible game and result can change your target.
“I repeat, I have great respect for Jurgen, and I know he respects me a lot. This is a good chance for all the coaches and me to learn that you never speak about your opponents during the game.
“It’s essential to focus on your team and the moments you can do better. And your problems.
“Jurgen is intelligent, and he was a bit frustrated after the game.
“But, at the same time, for us, for a top coach, it’s essential to focus on your team.
“To focus on your opponents means you want to find an excuse or alibi because it means something in your job was wrong.”
Tottenham managed just 35 per cent of possession against Liverpool, who outshot their opponents 22 to three – though the visitors registered as many shots on target (three each).
And while Conte can understand Klopp’s frustration at the time, he believes the Reds boss should ultimately be pleased to have come away from the contest with a share of the spoils.
“After the game against Liverpool, the excellent answer I had was like my players as we were disappointed at the end because we could win the game.
“We analysed the game the day after, and for sure, if there was a team that deserved to win.
“It was Tottenham, not Liverpool. Klopp understood he gained one point, not lost two points.”
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