Before he starts clearing his desk, Antonio Conte is eager to let off some steam.
First about the Tottenham fans, impatient and dissatisfied with the size of the task against AC Milan, and about the club’s culture, steeped in failure with its losing mentality.
Now the players, selfish and fireless, unable to play when the pressure is on, heartless and going backwards. All the while shielded from guilt by a litany of excuses.
‘Being a team is the most important thing,’ Conte fumed midway through his 10-minute speech after watching his team surrender a 3-1 lead to gain just one point from Southampton.
‘To understand, we play for the badge. We have to play to make our fans proud of us. We have to play to show desire. The first in their eyes to win. If you have that, you definitely don’t leave the FA Cup. Today you won.’
Antonio Conte delivered a surprising speech at Tottenham after the draw with Southampton
Spurs were leading 3-1 and cruising but conceded two late goals to draw 3-3 with 20th-placed Saints
His comparison of choice was not the Champions League exit against Milan, but the FA Cup defeat at the hands of Sheffield United, a Championship team that rested several first-team regulars as they prioritized promotion.
In short, Conte thinks Spurs are soft. Giving in against the Saints was simply the latest example, the last straw.
His footballing philosophy was forged during a playing career in the win-at-all-costs atmosphere at Juventus, under Giovani Trapattoni and Marcelo Lippi, which demanded total dedication to the cause and achieved marginal gains long before the expression was popularized by Dave Brailsford. . cycling team.
Conte has critically nibbled on English football culture this season. Which doesn’t consume everything like in Italy. Let the executives keep quiet and the manager be the only public voice and therefore take full responsibility.
What he didn’t elaborate on was how it played out in the dressing room, but modern elite players with their expensive contracts have long since discovered that it’s cheaper and simpler to blame and change the manager than to blame and change the squad.
It takes a certain amount of courage to keep faith in the coach when the team plays twice a week, when the results matter so much and when millions have the means to get their opinions across.
Manchester City have never wavered in their support of Pep Guardiola despite a difficult first season. Liverpool backed Jurgen Klopp because they were sure he was the right man and, more recently, Arsenal trusted their instincts with Mikel Arteta.
Maybe Chelsea are going through that process with Graham Potter. And this is a radical change because the modus operandi was very different when Conte arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2016.
The winning attitude was already well ingrained and fueled by the unspoken threat of Roman Abramovich’s trigger finger. At Tottenham, Levy’s trembling finger is on the trigger, but the attitude within the club is very different.
They somehow embrace the worst of the two extremes.
Perhaps this is the root of your argument about “fire in the eyes” and “desire”. They don’t know about winning and he does. Guys, it’s Tottenham, and all that and by their very definition, the board really didn’t stand by him and said we’re all with this guy.
They haven’t stacked his squadron with the experienced depth and world-class coverage he craves. Nor has Levy managed to break the habit of buying players his manager doesn’t want, like Djed Spence and Arnaut Danjuma.
Conte is right in his many complaints, but the Italian coach is not immune to blame
This Spurs team is his team. Of the 15 on parade in Southampton, six were signed by him
Those who blocked the radio calls on Saturday night were more offended by ENIC’s ownership than the manager, although everyone accepts that Conte’s tenure has come to an end.
His name did not ring out outside St Mary’s, as it did at Crystal Palace in January.
After the World Cup break passed without a deal to extend Conte’s initial 18-month contract, all signs pointed to his departure at the end of the season.
A feeling only reinforced by health problems and the need for time off to recover after a gallbladder removal operation in early February, with his wife and daughter still living in Italy.
Since then, consciously or not, players have settled down to move on and wait for the next engagement. Maybe it’s one that suits them best. Maybe Mauricio Pochettino will come back. Perhaps they all forgot how bitterly their pleasant reign ended.
So Conte is right, and yet he is not immune from blame. He was signed at a considerable cost on a contract worth £13m a year with a vast army of staff to sort it all out. Not to take a look, shrug your shoulders and call it impossible, and back off.
This team is his team. Of the 15 who played for Southampton, six were signed by him and, with the exception of Pedro Porro, all worked with him throughout the season.
Three came from Conte’s predecessor, Nuno Espírito Santo, with managing director Fabio Paratici in charge of recruitment.
Conte trusts Paratici’s judgment, so is he really questioning the attitude of Harry Kane, Son Heung-min, Pierre Emile Hojbjerg, Oliver Skipp, Ben Davies and Eric Dier?
What if Pape Sarr hadn’t kicked Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the 90th minute and James Ward-Prowse hadn’t converted the penalty to make it 3-3 and save a point for Saints? Would he have started with the same ferocity?
Tottenham also slipped out of the FA Cup to Sheffield United in meek fashion with a 1-0 defeat
Spurs chairman Daniel Levy will likely be looking for a new manager in the coming months
Did he do it to sharpen minds with 10 to play, as he did last season after the Burnley defeat? Or is it a move to hasten his departure?
Bookmakers have slashed the odds of his sacking on the basis that his future in office is unsustainable after such a brutal verbal attack on his players, and there is logic backing the move during this international break if Levy is sure it improves. Tottenham’s chances of finishing in the top four.
Champions League status is worth tens of millions and sacking Jose Mourinho to replace him with caretaker manager Ryan Mason six days before the League Cup final did not sit well with the Spurs chairman.
This is where Levy finds himself again. If he has the next manager in mind, that person will prefer to start in the summer instead of going in now, with fourth place looking fragile.