Antonio Conte attacked the culture and direction of his Tottenham players and the entire football club on Saturday night.
In a stunning 10-minute rant during Spurs’ 3-3 draw with Southampton, Conte branded his players “selfish”, said they were only playing “for themselves” and suggested there was a culture of failure at the club. He even pointed the finger at Daniel Levy citing the lack of success under ENIC over the last 20 years.
Even before these comments, Conte’s chances of continuing as Spurs manager beyond this season, when his contract expires, were slim to none. Some of these comments raise the question of whether he will live out his contract.
Conte even doubted whether a change of manager would have any bearing on changing what he called “the situation” at Spurs.
Unwilling to discuss the details of Spurs’ damaging league value with Saints, Conte went straight for his players and their attitude.
“The problem is that the second time we showed that we are not a team, we are 11 players who go on the pitch,” Conte said. “I see selfish players, I see players who don’t want to help each other and don’t put their heart into it.”
Conte, who has never spoken like this before as Tottenham manager, said he has been hiding the truth about his Spurs team and can only now reveal the truth to the world.
“Before today, I prefer to hide this situation and try to talk, try to heal the spirit, the situation with words,” he said. “The most important thing if you want to become a strong team, if you want to become competitive, if you want to fight to win, is the desire, the fire you need in your eyes, in your heart and This must be shown every moment.”
Referring 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 lower than last season.
“If I have to compare last season and this season, we have to improve, but now we are worse in that respect,” 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 a brand. We have to play to make our fans proud of us. We have to pay to show our will.”
Conte was furious not only at the players themselves, but at the club’s culture that the players are the only ones who never have to take responsibility.
“The club has a responsibility in the transfer market, every coach who stayed here has a responsibility,” he said. “What about the players? The players? Where are the players? In my experience, if you want to be competitive, if you want to fight, you have to improve that aspect.
When it was pointed out to Conte that his own contract situation was not helping the players, Conte saw that this was only in the hands of the players: “You find an alibi, another alibi. You’re trying to find an excuse for the players.”
Conte tried to argue that the team’s failure was down to a deep-seated lack of ambition and a culture of not winning.
“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 that way. The story of Tottenham is this: the owner has been here for 20 years and they’ve never won anything, but why?”
Conte even appeared to take a sympathetic swipe at his predecessors as Tottenham manager, saying he has “seen the Tottenham Managers on the bench”, suggesting they haven’t been the problem here. But he knows that the problems lie deeper than the dug man. According to him, there is no point in even aiming for fourth place this year, and even if he leaves the job soon, it will not fix the problems.
“There are 10 games to go and some people think we can fight. Fight what with his spirit, this attitude, this commitment? What? Seventh, eighth, 10th place? I’m not used to this attitude. I’m really upset and everyone has to take responsibility “, he said.
“Not just the club, the manager and the staff. The players have to be involved in this situation because it’s time to change this situation if Tottenham want to change. If they want to continue like this, they can change the manager, a lot of managers, but the situation can’t change. Believe me.”
(Photo: Getty Images)