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Friday, March 31, 2023

Antonio Conte lashes out at Tottenham board & ‘selfish players

Antonio Conte

A furious Antonio Conte says his players are “selfish” and Tottenham “can change the manager but the situation cannot change” in a stinging criticism of the club’s culture.

The Spurs boss said his team “don’t want to help each other” after a 3-3 draw at Southampton on Saturday.

“Tottenham’s story is this – 20 years there is this owner and they never won something. Why?” Conte said.

Spurs had led by two goals at St Mary’s but conceded twice in 15 minutes.

“The fault is only for the club, or for every manager that stay here?” said Conte. “I have seen the managers that Tottenham had on the bench. You risk to disrupt the figure of the manager and to protect the other situation in every moment.

“Until now I try to hide the situation but not now because I repeat, I don’t want to see what I have seen today because this is unacceptable and also unacceptable for the fans.”

Tottenham have won one trophy since the ownership group, chaired by Daniel Levy, took over the club in 2001 – the League Cup in 2008.

They have had 11 different managers in that time, including three since the departure of Mauricio Pochettino in 2019, who took them to the Champions League final before being sacked six months later.

Spurs are out of all cup competitions this season with Sheffield United knocking them out of the FA Cup before AC Milan ended their Champions League hopes – and Conte said it is time for the club and players to start taking 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,” he said.

“If they want to continue in this way, they can change the manager, a lot of managers, but the situation cannot change. Believe me.

“Maybe previously in the other games something can change. But here we’re used to it for a long time. The club has the responsibility for the transfer market, every coach that stayed here has the responsibility. And the players? The players? Where are the players?

“In my experience, I can tell you that if you want to be competitive, if you want to fight, you have to improve this aspect. And this aspect, I can tell you, in this moment is really, really low. And I see only 11 players that play for themselves.”

When asked why this is the case at Tottenham, Conte said: “Because they are used to it here, they are used to it. They don’t play for something important here. They don’t want to play under pressure, they don’t want to play under stress.”

Spurs remain fourth in the Premier League and had the chance to go above Manchester United into third with victory over Southampton, but during his damning media conference after the match, Conte said if their current form continues they will be lucky to secure a Champions League spot at all.

He said: “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?

“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.

“I am not used to this position. I’m really upset and everyone has to take their responsibility.”

Conte had said on Thursday he does not expect to get sacked by the club, after comments he made following Spurs’ European exit that they may decide to dismiss him before his contract ends in the summer.

He said those comments were “a joke”, but indicated in his criticism that the club are “worse” than last season when they pipped London rivals Arsenal to a top-four spot.

“It’s much better to go into the problem, because the problem is that for another time we showed that we are not a team,” Conte said.

“Before today I prefer to hide this situation and to try to speak, to try to improve the spirit, the situation, with the words, With a lot of situations.

“If I have to compare last season and this season, we have to improve, but now we are worse in this aspect. When you are not a team, anything can happen, in any moment. Today is the last situation.

“Being a team, it is the most important thing. To understand that we play for the badge.”

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