Tottenham boss Antonio Conte says he does not expect the club to sack him before the end of the season.
After Spurs were knocked out of the Champions League by AC Milan last week, the 53-year-old said they may want to sack him sooner than that.
But Conte, who is expected to leave Spurs when his contract ends this summer, said on Thursday the comment was “a joke”.
“This was a provocation you understand? About my future,” Conte said.
“A provocation, a joke. When you tell something, to joke.
“You [reporters] asked me about the future and I said 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, we are doing for this club,” he added.
Tottenham were knocked out of the FA Cup by Sheffield United in the same week as their Champions League exit and sit fourth in the Premier League, four points clear of Newcastle.
Since then there has been speculation over Conte’s future with the club.
“I think 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,” said Conte.
“You don’t know what happens tomorrow. 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.”
Spurs face Southampton on Saturday as they continue their bid for a top-four finish.
Conte also said Spurs want to keep England forward Harry Kane “for the rest of his career” amid questions over his future at the club.
Kane became Spurs’ all-time record scorer in February, surpassing Jimmy Greaves’ record, and has now scored 270 goals for the club, but has been linked with moves away in recent years.
“I think that this is a question for the club because for sure the club wants to involve Harry Kane for the rest of his career in my opinion,” said Conte.
“When you have a world class striker like him you want him to stay for the rest of his career.”