Tottenham manager Antonio Conte raised serious questions about his players and the club itself after conceding a two-goal lead in a 3-3 draw with Southampton. The Italian, who is expected to leave the club at the end of the season, has also thrown his immediate future into question after criticizing the owner, Joe Lewis, and club chairman Daniel Levy.
“For me it’s unacceptable,” Conte said, after James Ward-Prossey scored a penalty to complete Saints’ comeback in the final seconds. “We’re winning 3-1, in control and conceding two goals.”
Conte, answering just two questions in a 10-minute diatribe, went far beyond the standards of the draw which damaged Tottenham’s top four hopes. “I think it’s better to go to trouble, we’re not a team,” he said. “We are 11 players who go on the pitch. I see selfish players, players who don’t want to help each other and don’t put their heart into it [into it]. We are worse in this aspect this season than last season. You can’t improve when you’re not a team.
Conte returned in a 1–0 defeat to Sheffield United in the FA Cup on 1 March as an example of collective failure. “Fire in your eyes. You don’t go out in the FA Cup if you have it. Here we are used to [this] for a long time. The club is responsible for the transfer market, the coach is responsible. But the players, where are the players? I only see 11 players who play for themselves.
And he barracked the culture of Tottenham, the club itself, the words that interest Levy, fans present and away at St Mary’s. “They don’t play for anything important, yes. They don’t want to play under pressure, they don’t want to play under stress.
“It’s easy that way. Tottenham’s story is, there’s been a boss for 20 years and they’ve never won anything, but why? Is it the club’s fault, or is it every manager who sits here. I’ve seen managers on the bench at Tottenham. Every moment you take risks to protect other situations. Until now I try to hide the situation but not now, because I repeat that I don’t want to see what I saw today.”
He concluded: “Everyone has to take responsibility. Not just the club, the manager and the staff. The players have to be involved in this situation because if Tottenham want to change it’s time to change the situation.
“They can change the manager, many managers, but the situation cannot change. Trust me.”