Antonio Conte lashed out at his Tottenham players and the entire culture and direction of the football club on Saturday night.
In a staggering 10-minute tirade after Spurs drew 3-3 with Southampton, Conte called his players “selfish”, said they only play “for themselves” and suggested there was a culture of underachievers at the club. . He even pointed the finger at Daniel Levy, mentioning the lack of success under ENIC in the last 20 years.
Even before these comments, there was little chance that Conte would continue as Spurs manager beyond this season when his contract expires. Some of these comments will raise the question of whether he will see the end of his contract.
Conte even doubted whether changing the coach would make any difference in changing what he called “the situation” at Spurs.
Conte did not want to discuss the details of Spurs’ damaging league tie with the Saints, instead going straight to his players and their attitude.
“The problem is that once again we show that we are not a team, we are 11 players that go out on the pitch,” said Conte. “I see selfish players, I see players who don’t want to help themselves and don’t put their hearts in.”
Conte, who has never spoken like that before as Tottenham head coach, said he has been hiding the truth about his Spurs squad and only now could he reveal the truth to the world.
“Before today I prefer to hide this situation and try to speak, try to improve the mood, the situation, with words,” he said. “The most important thing if you want to become a strong team, if you want to be competitive, if you want to fight to win, is the desire, the fire that you need to have in your eyes, in your heart, and you. I have to show this at all times.”
Pointing to today’s result and the recent FA Cup exit to a much-changed Sheffield United side, Conte said the spirit and motivation of the players was worse than last season.
“If I have to compare last season and this season, we have to improve, but now we are worse in this aspect,” he said. “When you’re not a team, anything can happen, at any time. Today is the last situation.
“Don’t forget that in the FA Cup we lost to Sheffield United, who played with young players. Being a team is the most important thing. To understand that we play for the badge. We have to play so that our fans feel proud of us. We have to pay to show the desire.”
Conte was furious not only with the players themselves, but also with the club’s culture that states that the players are the only ones who never have to take any responsibility.
“The club has the responsibility of the transfer market, each coach who stayed here has the responsibility,” he said. “And the players? Players? Where are the players? In my experience, if you want to be competitive, if you want to fight, you have to improve this aspect.
When it was brought up to Conte that his own contract situation was not helping the players, Conte snapped that this was just playing into the players’ hands: “You’re finding an alibi, another alibi. You try to find an excuse for the players.”
Conte tried to argue that the team’s failure was linked to a profound lack of ambition and a no-win culture.
“Because they’re used to it here, they’re used to it,” he said, when asked why this happened at Spurs. “They don’t play for something important. They don’t want to play under pressure, they don’t want to play under stress. It’s easy this way. The story of Tottenham is this: the owner has been here for 20 years and has never won anything, but why?
Conte even appeared to be sympathetic to his predecessors as Tottenham manager, saying that he “has seen the managers that Tottenham had on the bench”, suggesting that they have not been the problem here. But he knows that the problems go beyond the man on the bench. He said that he doesn’t make sense to even aim for fourth place this year, and even if he leaves the job soon, he won’t solve the problems.
“There are 10 games to go and some people think we can fight. Fight for what with your spirit, this attitude, this commitment? That? For seventh, eighth, tenth place? I’m not used to this position. I am really upset and everyone has to take responsibility, ”he said.
“Not only the club, the coach and the coaching staff. The players have to get involved in this situation because it is time to change this situation if Tottenham wants to change. If they want to continue like this, they can change coaches, many coaches, but the situation cannot change. Believe me.”
(Photo: Getty Images)