Tottenham Hotspur confirmed its separation with manager Antonio Conte following the Italian’s outburst during the last weekend after the team’s 3-3 draw at Southampton in the Premier League.
Conte directed his ire toward the players, saying, “We are not a team. 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. 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.”
The 53-year-old then appeared to take a dig at chairman Daniel Levy and the club ownership for the repeated failures over the last two decades. He added, “Tottenham’s story is this. 20 years there is the owner and they never won something. Why?”
Conte had an underwhelming first full season with Tottenham, after only joining in November 2021, where the club is out of every cup competition and only has a top-four place to play for.
Tottenham midfielder Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg later said he would rather Conte ‘elaborate’ and be ‘precise’ with his criticism of his players.
In all this, Conte has distanced himself from any criticism of his counter-attacking style, which hasn’t helped his team’s chances this season. Spurs average 50.5 per cent possession – eighth best in the Premier League behind the likes of Brighton and Newcastle United. In its timid Champions League round of 16 defeat to Milan, Spurs only had two shots on target and in the FA Cup, Conte’s men were eliminated by Championship side Sheffield United.
Conte’s departure is in theme with the Italian’s managerial career so far, where he has abruptly severed ties with his previous employers.
In October 2021, pundit Gary Neville felt Manchester United wouldn’t bring Conte to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at the Old Trafford club. “If Conte is available, I wouldn’t bring him to Manchester United. I don’t think he is the right fit,” he reiterated on Sky Sports, referring to his abrasive management style.
Despite his success as a manager, Conte has been involved with 10 different teams since 2006, never really leaving a lasting legacy with any of them.
The former Italy international rose to prominence as a coach when he took over at Juventus, where he played for 15 years. After a successful stint where he won three successive Scudettos he left to take the Italy national team job on a two-year deal.
Since then, he has been either sacked or has tendered his resignation despite winning the league titles with Chelsea and Inter Milan. Chelsea severed ties with him at the end of his second year after winning the FA Cup in a season where the league form tapered off. He won the league title with Inter in his second year but resigned after a disagreement with the board over the club’s transfer policy.
While Conte’s tendency to ruffle feathers internally has been well documented in the last decade, there have also been similar instances in his developmental stages as a manager as well.
Piero Mancini, president of Conte’s first role as a coach at Arezzo, put it best what everyone has come to know now. “You cannot ask Conte to not be Conte. Once you have chosen Conte then you have to keep supporting him. You can’t compromise, you just need to follow him because all of his ideas are brilliant,” Mancini was quoted as saying in FourFourTwo magazine.
Conte was sacked three months into his role at Arezzo in 2006 before the club rehired him six months later. When Conte moved to Atalanta in 2009, he had a fractious relationship with the club’s ultra supporters. He lasted just five months on the job. After Atalanta’s home defeat to Napoli, five months after taking up the job, the ultras and Conte had to be separated by policemen during a verbal altercation, which ended with the latter stepping down.
Conte has seemingly burnt bridges, be it with the board, the players, or the fans at almost everywhere he has worked and similar rumblings have led to his exit from Spurs too.