The Tottenham manager, Antonio Conte, launched into his players after they blew a two-goal lead to draw 3-3 with Southampton, severely questioning their motivations beyond that and the club itself. The Italian, expected to leave the club at the end of the season, also brought his own immediate future into question by appearing to criticise the owner, Joe Lewis, and the club chairman, Daniel Levy.
“For me this is unacceptable,” Conte said, James Ward-Prowse having scored a penalty to complete Saints’ comeback in the dying seconds. “We are winning 3-1, in control and concede two goals.”
Conte, answering just two questions in a 10-minute diatribe, moved far beyond the parameters of a draw that damaged Tottenham’s top-four hopes. “I think it’s better to go into the problem, we are not a team,” he said. “We are 11 players that go into the pitch. I see selfish players, players that don’t want to help each other and don’t put their heart. This season compared to last, now we are worse in this aspect. When you are not a team you cannot improve.”
Conte harked back to losing 1-0 to Sheffield United in the FA Cup on 1 March as an example of collective failure. “The fire in your eyes. If you have this you don’t go out in the FA Cup. Here we are used to for a long time. The club has the responsibility for the transfer market, the coach has the responsibility. But the players, where are the players? I see only 11 players that play for themselves.”
And he rounded on the culture of Tottenham, the club itself, words bound to interest Levy, present at St Mary’s and barracked by away fans. “They don’t play for something important yeah. They don’t want to play under pressure, they don’t want to play under stress.
“It is easy in this way. Tottenham’s story is this, 20 years there is the owner and they never won something but why? The fault is only for the club, or for every manager that stay here. 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 now no because I repeat I don’t want to see what I have seen today.”
He concluded: “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.
“They can change the manager, a lot of managers, but the situation cannot change. Believe me.”
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