Tottenham Hotspur was involved in a dramatic 3-3 draw with Southampton in the Premier League on Saturday.
However, the drama didn’t end after the final whistle as Tottenham manager Antonio Conte proceeded to deliver a damning analysis of his team’s performance – Spurs threw away a 3-1 lead – and the club’s culture.
Former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson, according to Roy Keane, once famously gave his players a pre-match team talk ahead of a game against Spurs, simply saying: “Lads, it’s Tottenham.”
Those three words were Ferguson’s way of writing Spurs off as having a brittle streak, though Conte used a few more words in his extraordinary 10-minute rant.
“We are 11 players that go into the pitch. I see selfish players, I see players that don’t want to help each other and don’t put their heart (in),” said Conte.
“Why? Because they are used to it here, they are used to it. They don’t play for something important. They don’t want to play under pressure, they don’t want to play under stress,” added Conte.
“It is easy in this way. Tottenham’s story is this. Twenty years there is the owner and they never won something but why? The fault is only for the club, or for every manager that stays here. I have seen the managers that Tottenham had on the bench.”
Spurs have won a trophy in the last 20 years – the League Cup final in 2008 – and also reached the Champions League final in 2019, before losing 2-0 to Liverpool. However the club last won a top-English title over half a century ago.
Conte’s contract with Spurs expires at the end of the season, but Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher tweeted that the Italian “wants to be sacked in this international break,” as the Premier League pauses until April 1 while Euro 2024 qualifiers are played.
“His point about Spurs not winning for a long time is right, but you don’t speak about your own club like that. Especially when you’re getting paid fortunes by them!” tweeted Carragher.
“The improvement in Arsenal this season after finishing above them last season kills a lot of his arguments,” added Carragher.
‘Not good enough’
Earlier this month, Spurs were knocked out of the FA Cup by Sheffield United and the Champions League by AC Milan.
Saturday’s draw keeps Spurs in the hunt for a place in the Champions League next season, but a win against Southampton would have made the London team’s task of qualifying for European soccer’s top competition easier.
“I see only 11 players that play for themselves,” continued Conte, who has previously coached Italy as well as Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan.
“There are 10 games to go and some people think we can fight. Fight for what with this spirit, this attitude, this commitment? What? For seventh, eighth, 10th place? I am not used to this position.
“I’m really upset and everyone has to take their responsibility. Not only the club, the manager and the staff, the players have to be involved in this situation because it is time to change this situation if Tottenham want to change.
“If they want to continue in this way, they can change the manager, a lot of managers, but the situation cannot change. Believe me.”
Conte’s tirade hasn’t gone down well with a number of leading Spurs fans.
“Conte isn’t interested in working to change the culture,” tweeted Martin Cloake. “Yesterday’s rant was the self interest of a narcissist whose anti football tactics have not made the best of what we have. That doesn’t mean there is no blame elsewhere, but he is culpable too.”
A win at Southampton, would have moved Spurs up to third place in the Premier League table. The draw put them on 49 points, two more than fifth-placed Newcastle United, though having played two more games.
“Not good enough .. the game should be finished,” admitted Tottenham winger Dejan Kulusevski in an interview with the club’s website. “It’s completely our fault, we’ve very disappointed with our themselves and it’s not good enough. It feels like a loss.”