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Tottenham manager Antonio Conte says qualifying for the Champions League would be like winning the Premier League title for Spurs.

The former Chelsea and Inter boss took over at Spurs in November but has been forthright in his scathing assessment of the club’s situation which he said surprised him.

Conte became the first Spurs manager to go unbeaten in his first eight games in charge but progress has stalled after an underwhelming January transfer window.

The Italian had previously remarked that Tottenham had a “one per cent possibility to finish fourth” but Monday’s 5-0 win over Everton saw Spurs draw level on 45 points with sixth-placed West Ham United and sit three points behind fourth-placed Arsenal.

“You know I don’t like to speak about ambition and reaching a place in the Champions League because I like to play to win the league and win trophies, but in this situation this could be our Champions League, our Premier League title if we are able to reach fourth place,” Conte said at the post-game news conference.

He added: “Now we have 12 games to play until the end of the season,’ he said. ‘I listen and you ask me in every press conference about the top-four race.

“I said to my players that it’s right to take responsibility about this because I think that from when I arrived to now we are stronger.

“In January two players made us more complete. I think that we can fight. We can fight for this target. It’s important to have this ambition and it’s not right to hide our ambition and we’ll see what happens.

“We’ll try to do everything and at the end we’ll see what happens. Now we have only 12 games to play, not a trophy to play for. For this reason it’s right to take the responsibility, me, myself, I have to be the first.”

Conte’s side have won three of their past four Premier League games, including winning 3-2 at leaders and champions Manchester City. The Italian told Sky Sports after the game his expectations have elevated.

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