Teamwork makes the dream work

Antonio Conte & the zugzwang of Tottenham Hotspur

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“You’re discovering an alibi, one other alibi,” Antonio Conte mentioned when requested about his future, his voice slowly going up just a few decibels in his press convention after Tottenham’s 3-3 draw with Southampton.

Spurs had inexplicably – effectively, maybe not inexplicably, which is the crux of the issue – thrown away a two-goal lead away on the Premier League’s worst workforce with quarter-hour of the sport remaining.

“You attempt to discover an excuse for the gamers. OK, proceed to do that, to seek out an excuse for the gamers. You do solely this! You do solely this. Excuses for the gamers,” Conte exclaimed to the a number of journalists in his presence at St Mary’s, insisting this collapse was not his fault.

“‘However the gamers, possibly, my future, then we misplaced confidence, they misplaced spirit, they misplaced being a workforce’. Excuses. Excuses. Excuses. Attempt to shield them each time.

“Bah. Come on, come on, come on. We’re skilled. The membership pay us some huge cash. The gamers obtain cash, me obtain cash, you perceive? To not discover excuse or not present spirit or present a way of belonging or do not present a way of accountability as a result of we’re displaying this. For me that is unacceptable as a result of for me that is the primary time in my profession to see a scenario like this. Till now I wasn’t capable of change, to not change however evaluate to final season the scenario went to develop into worse.”

The pinnacle coach throwing his gamers underneath the bus is only one telltale signal that somebody desires out of their job. However heading after the membership’s house owners is a rarer sight, a hidden gem amongst meltdowns.

“Why [is this happening]? As a result of they’re used to it right here, they’re used to it,” Conte continued. “They do not play for one thing vital yeah. They do not wish to play underneath stress, they do not wish to play underneath stress. It’s simple on this means. Tottenham’s story is that this. 20 years there’s the proprietor they usually by no means received one thing however why? The fault is just for the membership, or for each supervisor that keep right here? I’ve seen the managers that Tottenham had on the bench. You danger to disrupt the determine of the supervisor and to guard the opposite scenario in each second.”

On the finish of a headline-making and legacy-breaking monologue, Conte retorted: “I am actually upset and everybody has to take their accountability.

“Not solely the membership, the supervisor and the employees. The gamers should be concerned on this scenario as a result of it’s time to change this example if Tottenham wish to change. In the event that they wish to proceed on this means, they will change the supervisor, a whole lot of managers, however the scenario can not change. Imagine me.”


It was soccer’s worst stored secret earlier than that Conte was on his means out of Tottenham on the finish of the season. Now it is a thriller that he is even nonetheless within the job.

After a robust finish to the 2021/22 season – one through which Spurs displayed an entertaining ruthlessness that led to solutions of a title push this yr – Conte has undone a whole lot of his good work. Tottenham’s outcomes have regressed in tandem with their newly prehistoric type of play, dumped out of three cup competitions by three sides they actually ought to have crushed.

Conte’s criticisms of the enjoying squad and possession are legitimate. It would be silly to try to battle again towards them. The issue is the place from which he’s talking and operating away from, as a lot an issue and detriment to the membership as any of the opposite components he blamed, named and shamed.

Whereas Tottenham one way or the other sit fourth within the Premier League desk, they’re caught in reverse and it’s a false place. They’ve a non-committal head coach, a roster underperforming and sapped of confidence, a director of soccer who may quickly be banned from the sport, a boss – rightly or wrongly – rising extra unpopular by the day.

The place Jose Mourinho’s tenure merely fizzled out with apathy two years in the past, Conte appears decided to exit in a blaze of anti-glory and is hell-bent on taking everybody down with him.

Therein maybe lies the one constructive of this mess. After 4 years of failure within the post-Mauricio Pochettino period, it is now simple that Spurs have failed of their makes an attempt to exchange him. They need to recognise they had been a top-four membership in want of rebuilding to succeed in the following stage and that is nonetheless the case.

Tottenham should take some steps again in the event that they’re to maneuver ahead once more and settle for that these flirtations to fast-track to silverware had been egregious. They’re just a few months away from the switch window – the first step should be about figuring out an appropriate head coach to steer and reunite the membership.

Conte and Mourinho weren’t suited to the wants of Spurs, however their failures aren’t ones of ambition. The truth is, it is fairly the alternative. Daniel Levy is on file saying that he thought the enigmatic Portuguese was nonetheless ‘one of many two finest managers on the earth’ on the time of his appointment, a critical indiscretion for somebody at that time accountable for footballing operations.

His determination to usher in Conte was extra comprehensible contemplating his more moderen success and skill to boost the ground of groups with out star high quality in each place. However they should not have banked on him to stay round for the long-term, for them to be the membership the place he lastly strikes on from his short-term preferences.

The excellent news for Tottenham is that there are nonetheless various top-level coaches who could be concerned about succeeding Conte – Luis Enrique seems like he is eager, Pochettino’s need to return is pretty apparent, and this should not be a scenario like in 2021 when the job fell to Nuno Espirito Santo.

Ralf Rangnick famously insisted final yr Manchester United wanted ‘open coronary heart surgical procedure’ after their worst ever Premier League season, and the proper managerial appointment was adopted by swift and uncharacteristic motion within the switch market. Spurs are in disaster and trending downwards but it surely will not final that means eternally, and would not even should for for much longer.

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