World Football

What went wrong at Tottenham Hotspur?

Rajarshi Shukla

March 20 2023
Antonio Conte

Antonio Conte bluntly spoke about the team’s discontent.

After a disastrous tenure under Nuno Espirito Santo, Tottenham hired Antonio Conte last season with the hopes of regaining the title. The Italian manager was able to guide the team to Champions League qualifying. And under Conte, although it hasn’t happened, the aspirations of taking home the first-ever cutlery were sparked.

Yet, it has panned out to be another season in which North Londoners have been unable to contend for any trophies. Spurs are now fourth in the table, 17 points behind first-place Arsenal, and are eliminated from all domestic competitions and the Champions League. They even played terribly in the games, which prompted the former Inter Milan boss to criticise them.

Defeat to Southampton

After Tottenham’s defeat to Southampton, Antonio Conte unleashed a scathing assault on his ‘selfish’ players and the club’s culture.

In a dramatic 3-3 draw, the north London team threw away a two-goal lead at St Mary’s, and it led to an unexpected outburst from Conte following the game.

Even though they are now in fourth place, Tottenham is now at risk of not playing in the Champions League for the upcoming season. Tottenham, who are still troubled by incongruent play, has an advantage over Newcastle, Liverpool, and Brighton.

After the final whistle, Conte did not hold back as he berated his players and then questioned why the team had not achieved success with chairman Daniel Levy.

“Selfish players”

The fuming Italian said: “The problem is we have shown we are not a team. We are 11 players. I see selfish players. I see players that don’t want to help each other and don’t play with heart. It is the same every season, no matter who the manager is. They’re used to it here.”

“Don’t play for something important. They don’t want to play under pressure. They don’t want to play under stress.”

“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. You risk disrupting 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’ve seen today because this is unacceptable and also unacceptable for the fans.”

“They follow us, pay the ticket and see the team another time to have this type of performance is unacceptable. We have to think a lot about this.”

“They have to play to show that they are a team, they have to pay to have the right spirit, sense of belonging and to show they have a responsibility for the badge, not for me or my staff.

“It’s one year that we are continuing to try and transfer this message, but I think that they are not understanding. Maybe we are not so good at transferring the message, or maybe they are not so good to play at this level.”

Another trophyless season

In a number of interviews, Conte emphasised his belief that the players should shoulder some of the blame for another year without a trophy. Ever since Levy and the present owner came to control in 2001, Tottenham has only won one title.

They were just eliminated from the FA Cup by Sheffield United and from the Champions League by AC Milan, dooming them to another year of going unrewarded.

 “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, at any moment.”

“Today is the last situation. Don’t forget that in FA Cup we lost to Sheffield United, who played with young players. With a strong team, we were dropped from the FA Cup.

“A lot of situations, I repeat, not going to improve. And I am not speaking about a tactical aspect or technical aspect.

“[It’s] about being a team, being a team, being a team. It is the most important thing. To understand that we play for the badge. We have to play to make our fans proud of us. We have to play to show desire. The fire in your eyes to win: if you have this, for sure, you don’t go out in FA Cup. Today, you win.

“We have to play to make our fans proud, we have to play to show desire. Here we’re used to it for a long time. The club has the responsibility for the transfer market, and 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, at this moment is really, really low. And I see only 11 players that play for themselves.”

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