Cristian Stellini has hinted there will be minimal changes under his stewardship but fired a warning to Tottenham’s critics.
The 48-year-old will lead Spurs for the final two months of the season and begins his tenure at Everton on Monday after Antonio Conte departed the club by mutual consent last week.
Stellini attempted to tread carefully between defending his close friend Conte and protecting Tottenham’s reputation in Friday’s press conference, where he faced repeated questions about the crisis which has engulfed the club during the past fortnight.
Conte has been followed out of Hotspur Way – albeit initially temporarily – by managing director of football Fabio Paratici, who has taken a leave of absence after FIFA extended his ban in Italy worldwide for his part in allegations against Juventus of false accounting.
But Stellini feels the noise will only strengthen Spurs’ bond.
“Around us there is and there are a lot of speculation, but the club is here, the fans are with us, the stadium is there,” Stellini said.
“We have to be worried only on the game we have to play and the way we want to play the game.
“The more you try to punch us, the more we are tight, we stick together and more we react.
“This has to be clear for you guys and for all the people who try to punch us, because with the speculation, you create only energy on us. This has to be clear for everyone.”
If Spurs are to salvage their season and secure Champions League qualification again, blocking out the external noise will be key.
But Stellini, who worked with the former Chelsea boss at Juventus and Inter Milan, appeared to suggest no wholesale changes will be required despite Tottenham’s wildly inconsistent 2023 producing eight wins and seven defeats.
He added: “I prefer to not change the dynamic. The only change is that I take decisions now.
“We have to follow the process we had because we are in fourth position at the moment. We know very well that the other teams have games in hand, but we are where it is important that we are.
“We can challenge everyone and we know very well that with our team we can beat everyone. We just need to play like we did in the past against important teams.”
Conte’s frustration with Tottenham’s lack of stability boiled over at St Mary’s and ultimately accelerated his exit.
It has been a tumultuous season for the Italian, who lost three close friends over the winter and even his trusted assistant admitted it took a lot out of him.
“With all the situation he had around him, this was absolutely the best because I have never seen Antonio not work at his best,” Stellini insisted.
“Probably that was his best and he forced himself many times to get over the situations around him and that maybe created for him an effort that was too big.
“It could be a reason the decision was taken – although it is not up to me to say. All I can say is that Antonio pushed himself the best for everything at every moment.”
The responsibility of Spurs’ top four charge now falls to Stellini, who has taken charge of six matches this season and, despite notable results against Manchester City and Chelsea, it was defeat at Sheffield United in the FA Cup where he learnt the most.
He added: “It was a good learning, this match. I struggled a lot after that match. I learned something but I want to keep this learning with me and not tell you because I don’t want to repeat that situation.
“Me and the players, we know the difference. We have to take care that that never happens again.”