ANTONIO CONTE says he does not believe Spurs are considering sacking him.
The Tottenham chief told Italian TV after last week’s Champions League exit to AC Milan that the club hierarchy could “send me away” before his contract expires in the summer.
It followed a miserable week in which the North Londoners also crashed out of the FA Cup to Championship side Sheffield United and lost at Wolves in the league.
Yet Conte now insists his response was a joke – what is known as “una battuta” in his mother tongue – after being provoked by his interviewer and he does not think Daniel Levy is thinking of wielding the axe.
The ex-Chelsea boss said: “This was a provocation, you understand, about my future. A provocation, a joke, ‘una battuta’.
“When you tell something, to joke. You asked me about the future and I said to you that you don’t know what happens. Because maybe the club can sack me.
“But I repeat: I don’t think the club is thinking this. The club sees every day what me and my staff are doing for this club. It was only an answer about my future.”
Asked if the club have told him whether he is safe until the end of the current campaign, Conte replied: “There is not one club that can tell the manager you stay here until the end of the season.
“You know football is really strange. you don’t know what happens tomorrow, you understand. But I repeat: in my opinion we try in every moment to do everything, me and my staff. And I think the club appreciates this.
BETTING SPECIAL – BEST FOOTBALL BETTING SITES IN THE UK
“Because if you continue to ask me if I sign a new contract, it means that maybe the club appreciates what we are doing, the work that we doing, in this one year and a half.”
While all routes to silverware are now closed off this season, Conte is still hoping to replicate last term’s top-four finish during this campaign.
His side are currently in the box seat, holding a four-point gap over fifth-placed Newcastle who are a spot below them in table, though Eddie Howe’s men have two games in hand.
Spurs travel on Saturday to basement boys Southampton, the side from whom they pinched goalkeeper Fraser Forster on a freebie last summer.
The England stopper, 34, has been in fine form since deputising for the injured Hugo Lloris over the last month, prompting questions over whether he could keep his place when the Frenchman returns.
Yet Conte added: “We’re really happy with Fraser but at the same time when Hugo is ready he is our first keeper.”