Premier League: Antonio Conte scolds like Trapattoni – Sport
Whenever the coach Antonio Conte Tottenham Hotspur will leave in a few days, at the end of the season or, contrary to expectations, in the distant future – he has already given his club a memorable moment. However, not the first Premier League championship or any other trophy for Tottenham, who have been untitled for 15 years. But a nearly ten-minute angry speech that looked quite similar to the legendary “I’m done” tirade by his Italian compatriot Giovanni Trapattoni.
Exactly 25 years ago, Trapattoni had created immortal dictums at FC Bayern by defending himself (“A coach is not an idiot”) and with individual players (“What do Strunz allow?”) and the team (“Weak as a Empty bottle”). In a similar style, Conte vented pent-up anger on Saturday, he lashed out at the team and club management. This had already been indicated in the previous weeks, when the Spurs first failed in the FA Cup at second division Sheffield United and then in the round of 16 of the Champions League at AC Milan.
The last straw was the 3-3 in the league at bottom Southampton, where Tottenham gambled away a 3-1 lead in the final stages, also because of a questionable penalty in added time. This means that Spurs, who are still fourth, could soon be overtaken by Newcastle United in the long-distance duel for the premier class qualification – all in all far too little for the Conte, who is used to success and always wants to play for the title. But that wish has not come true since his arrival at Tottenham in late 2021. Instead, Conte constantly has to explain unpleasant results that scratch his honor – and now his collar has burst.
After the final whistle, Conte first gave the referee a lecture, then in the press conference a sweeping blow followed in this form premier league has no equal. So far, Conte added, he has tried to hide the situation, but now is the time to name “the problem”: the team spirit and the attitude.
Conte sees “selfish players” without “fire in their eyes” who “don’t want to get stressed”.
What should you fight for ten games before the end, for example for “seventh, eighth or tenth place”? Conte asked himself. As a coach, he is not used to “such positions” in the table and experienced such a poor performance as on Saturday “for the first time in my career”: “That’s not acceptable!” His pros have shown “again” that they are “not a unit” and “only play for themselves,” the 53-year-old fumed. He sees “selfish players” who are “not with their hearts in the matter”. With “fire in their eyes” they would have won against Southampton and “certainly not” been eliminated in the FA Cup.
When asked by a reporter whether the lack of commitment could be related to his contract, which expires in the summer, Conte sharpened the tone again. The media would “look for alibis for the players,” he ranted: “Ok, keep it up! Look for excuses. Excuses, excuses, excuses! Protect them every time! Bah!” The mentality of the team is “really, really desolate,” he summed up – and has even worsened compared to the previous season.
Just why? Because the players are “used to it”, Conte speculates: “They don’t want to play for anything important. They don’t want to play under pressure, not under stress.” During his scathing assessments, Conte suddenly began to amuse himself with his choice of words. He couldn’t help but laugh briefly, but the situational comedy could also be interpreted differently: as if he were making fun of his players – and his club.
The Italian went on to say that the easy way represents “the history of Tottenham”. For more than 20 years, the club has had “the same owner” – Joe Lewis, who shares the club’s shares with club boss Daniel Levy – and “never won anything” (apart from the 2008 League Cup). The cause of Conte? The media in England would often “weaken” the coach’s position but protect “the other side (the club management) at all times”.
However, the lack of substance in Tottenham’s squad seems to be less due to the recent substantial investments in additions than to the quality of the transfers. In the summer, Spurs signed players under Conte for around 170 million euros, hardly anyone of whom proved to be a reinforcement, including the most injured attacker Richarlison. The number of top players is far from sufficient for their own claims, only the storm duo Harry Kane and Heung-min Son stand for international elite. Over the years, many professionals have obviously made themselves too comfortable in an environment in which the new training ground and stadium each meet the highest standards. The Mass Journal Sun aptly titled “Con Men” in a pun on the trainer’s name.
What’s next in Tottenham? As always, the club could “change the coach”, Conte flirted with his replacement, but this would “not” change the situation: “Believe me!” He shouted. Then he got up, thanked the audience (“Thank you very much”) and left the press room. PS: After Trapattoni’s angry speech, his collaboration with FC Bayern ended a little later, at the end of the season.