From Tottenham Hotspur Stadium – Antonio Conte has suggested that he took Son Heung-min out of the Tottenham starting lineup for the good of the team, but was delighted that the South Korean came off the bench to score a hat-trick in Saturday’s 6-2 win over Leicester.
Son had not scored a goal this season prior to the thrashing of the Foxes and was replaced in Spurs’ XI by Dejan Kulusevski.
Tottenham went into the half-time break drawing 2-2, and while they re-took the lead soon after the interval through Rodrigo Bentancur, it wasn’t until Son’s introduction just before the hour mark that the hosts really clicked into gear.
The 30-year-old scored a quick-fire hat-trick to put Leicester to the sword, and speaking post-match, Conte discussed the thought process of dropping Son.
“The people don’t understand for a coach, to manage this type of situation is not easy,” Conte began.
“Sometimes you prefer to play with 13 players. But in some moments, I have to take important decisions. First of all I have to try to be honest in the decision because if you’re honest, you don’t lose the respect of your players.
“I think in my career every decision I’m going to take is for the best of the team. The players know very well that I want to win and every decision is for the best of the team, for the best of the player.”
Speaking to BBC Sport, Conte added: “We have had a lot of games in a row, every three days. He played every game. We started with Richarlison on the bench for many games. Then Kulusevski was on the bench. Then today Son.
“I was a player. Every player wants to play every game but you lose physical energy and mental energy. Sometimes you don’t understand this and think you can play but the performance goes down.
“This season especially up top we have players. We have [Lucas] Moura and [Bryan] Gil. Rotation is good for the team and for player welfare. If you give energy and you play in the way Son played, everyone is happy.”