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Antonio Conte: Tottenham players’ work, mentality make him top-4 believer

Lucas Moura punches through the Newcastle defense and plays in Steven Bergwijn, who tucks home a tidy finish for a 5-1 Tottenham lead.

There’s now a serious manner to the way Antonio Conte considers questions about Tottenham Hotspur’s chances, as we learned last week.

But now with Spurs back into fourth, albeit possibly for just 24 hours, will that change his tone again?

Not really. Conte again stressed that he wasn’t lying in November when he told fans that the top four was a long way away, it’s just that the team has worked its back end off to apply his ideas.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Spurs 5-1 Newcastle ]

“The work we’re doing is paying off,” Conte said after a 5-1 win over Newcastle United in North London on Sunday. “It’s important because we see every day great commitment from the players but also good results. They trust me and they trust in the work we are doing.”

“In my career I like to be honest and to be clear every moment with my players. In November it was very difficult for me to pick a target in our season because I found difficulty in many aspects. But in the work of 5-6 months, we have tried to bring my idea of football and my mentality to these players. You can have the best ideas and the best mentality but if the player doesn’t want to improve, to make themself to another level, it’s very difficult for the coach. I say thanks to my players because from the first day they’ve showed me good commitment.”

And now the serial winner is, to no one’s surprise, winning more games. And he’s relishing it.

“When you see your team play this way, you enjoy it,” Conte said. “You enjoy it. ... This league is very difficult but to play against us is not easy.”

Tottenham can claim fourth, especially if it wins the remaining North London derby against Arsenal, but if Spurs can find their Sunday level more often the rest of the way, perhaps they can set their sights on third-place Chelsea, too.