Tottenham manager Antonio Conte launches stunning attack on Daniel Levy and ‘selfish’ players

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ntonio Conte tore into his Tottenham players and the culture of the club in an astonishing rant after Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Southampton, accusing the squad of “unacceptable” levels of fight and professionalism, and warning chairman Daniel Levy that nothing would change if he is sacked.

Spurs squandered a 3-1 with lead with 16 minutes to play at St. Mary’s, as James Ward-Prowse’s stoppage-time penalty earned a point for rock-bottom Saints.

Afterwards, a furious Conte went to war with his “selfish” players and said they must start taking responsibility for the club’s inconsistent results.

And asked why he feels they lack fight and desire, Conte said “the story” of Spurs was two decades of failing to win under Levy in what was a clear affront on the culture and direction of the club.

“Being a team is the most important thing,” Conte said. “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. And today you win.

“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.”

Spurs have won just a solitary League Cup since Levy became chairman in 2001 and Conte suggested the players’ attitude was a symptom of the club’s culture, pointing out that none of their previous managers had been able to put it right.

“They are used to it here,” he said. “They don’t play for something important. They don’t want to play under pressure, they don’t want to play under stress.

Antonio Conte against Southampton watched his side concede a two-goal lead for the second time in 2023.

/ Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I

“It is easy in this way. 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 stay here? I have seen the [previous] 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 have seen today because this is unacceptable and also unacceptable for the fans. They follow us, pay the ticket and to see the team another time to have this type of performance is unacceptable. We have to think a lot about this.”

After last weekend’s win over Nottingham Forest, Conte said he had “seen the fire in [the players’ eyes] but reminded of his comment he said: “I said that I wanted to see the fire, not that I have seen. It is different.

“I said that I want to see the fire in their eyes, in their hearts. I want to see the right spirit. Not only in the training session, on the pitch. Because here you have to make the difference.

“There are 10 games to go and some people think we can fight. Fight for what with this spirit, this attitude, this commitment? For what? For seventh, eighth, 10th place? I am not used to this position. I’m really upset and 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. If they want to continue in this way, they can change the manager, a lot of managers, but the situation cannot change. Believe me.”

Conte has refused to commit to Spurs beyond the end of the season, when his contract expires, but he rubbished suggestions that his own uncertain future is contributing to the players’ performances, saying the media were complicit in making “excuses” for his players.

“You are finding an alibi, another alibi,” he said. “You try to find an excuse for the players. OK, continue to do this, to find an excuse for the players.

“You do only this. Excuses for the players. ‘But the players, my future, we lost confidence, they lost spirit, they lost being a team’.

“Excuses. Excuses. Excuses! Try to protect them every time. Bah. Come on, come on, come on. We are professional. The club pay us a lot of money. The players receive money, I receive money, you understand?

“Not to find excuses or not show spirit or show a sense of belonging or don’t show a sense of responsibility because we are showing this.

“For me this is unacceptable because for me this is the first time in my career to see a situation like this. Until now I wasn’t able to change, not to change but compare to last season the situation went to become worse.”

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