Antonio Conte wants to get fired more than anyone has ever wanted to get fired

Please fire this man.

It only takes a matter of hours after becoming a soccer fan to hear the term, “Spursy.” It only takes a couple more after that to completely understand that. It refers to Tottenham Hotspur and that no matter the situation, or the seeming unlikeliness, something weird will happen to the club, and in a bad way. While the truth is almost certainly some calculable combination of bad management from the top, a lack of a long-term plan, being just a touch less rich than their rivals, with a dash of some bad luck, the overall feeling that something hangs over the club that will always result in a balls-up is inescapable. They are the Premier League’s Jets, or Maple Leafs, where something ineffable must be overcome, even though that nebulous force has become so pungent and strong that the task is impossible.

Yesterday was one of the most Spursy days on record in recent history. Tottenham managed to toss away a two-goal lead in the last 13 minutes away to Southampton, the worst team in the league. Sure, the equalizer came from a pretty damn dubious penalty, but Spurs fans are so beaten down by…being Spurs fans that that kind of thing just seems like the price of admission.

That result alone would have been weird enough for the North London club, but this is Tottenham Hotspur, where they can always pour more confounding mishegas on top of the bedrock of confounding mishegas the club is apparently built on. Enter manager Antonio Conte, with a press conference that torched his own players, and his bosses, and acted as a large neon sign flashing, “PLEASE FIRE ME!” that was also on fire.

The best part of this has to be when Conte exclaims, “I’m very upset!” Oh you don’t say?

It’s also important to remember that Conte is such a level-headed sort that he authored my favorite soccer clip of all time during the 2016 Euros:

Does Conte have a point? Probably, yes. Spurs are 15 years without any trophy, depending on how much stock you put in the League Cup. They haven’t won the FA Cup in 32 years, and let’s not even wade into their last league title. Chairman Daniel Levy has been in charge for 22 years, and it’s a pretty barren 22 years for a club that sees itself on the same level with neighbors Arsenal, if not the rest of the league’s giants. And Levy’s reign has been chaotic at times, hiring managers at a rate that would spin a revolving door off the hinges.

But Spurs have also hit their greatest recent heights under Levy, and perhaps more poignantly to every Spurs supporter, manager Mauricio Pochettino. They made a Champions League final, the club’s first, and contended for a couple of league titles without winning them. Pochettino’s Tottenham ran off 3rd, 2nd, and 3rd place finishes from 2016-2018, the best run by far that Spurs have ever managed in the Premier League.

Levy’s greatest mistake was firing Pochettino instead of funding the squad overhaul that Pochettino told him was necessary, and one Levy ended up funding anyway to please subsequent managers Jose Mourinho and Conte. But Mourinho and Conte are never, ever part of a long-term vision, given the way they quickly flameout, or straight up nuke, their surroundings after a season or two.

The perfect symmetry to all this is that the ghost of Pochettino has hung in the background all season, as he has been heavily rumored to be the one who’s going to replace Conte whenever the Italian packs up his bags (though honestly, it sure has felt like Conte has had his bags packed for a while now). But it’s another example of the scattergun planning that Levy’s Tottenham have never been able to get out of.

The Conte M.O.

On the flip side, this is what Conte does. At Juventus, at Chelsea, at Inter, and now Spurs, he engineers an immediate bounce in results, performance, and optimism, and then he firebombs his own work the following season, usually bitching about a lack of support in transfers or influence or both. The dude just can’t sit still.

And Conte would have a hard time arguing he hasn’t been supported by Levy. Spurs brought in Richarlison, Christian Romero, Yves Bissouma, Ivan Perišić, Clément Lenglet in the summer, and Pedro Porro and Arnaut Danjuma in the January window. Of all of them, only Romero and Perišić have featured regularly, though some of that is due to injury. But some of it is not, as Richarlison was only too happy to point out when Spurs limply exited the Champions League to a far-from-impressive AC Milan. That’s some $215 million in expenditure on Conte’s behalf, and that’s a touch more than the change found in the couch cushions.

And it’s hard to put the blame anywhere other than Conte for how often Spurs look bland and lethargic on the field. He can pillory his players in the press all he likes, and he apparently likes it a lot, but it’s kind of in his job description to generate passion and desire within his squad. Seeing as how he’s been making goo-goo eyes at the exit door for most of the season, it’s not all that shocking that his players aren’t exactly feeling it week in and week out.

One wonders if Pochettino could save this if he is indeed to make a glorious return, no matter how much goodwill and leeway the fans will give him. Of Tottenham’s leading players by minutes this season, only Romero and Dejan Kulusevski aren’t either over or about to be over 30 years old. It’s a mystery how much more patience Harry Kane has for this horseshit (though let’s all pray that Man United decide to shell out big for him for his declining years instead of Victor Osimhen, who has inhaled and spit back out Serie A for Napoli this year and is six years younger). The squad may need another overhaul after the overhaul they engineered after telling Pochettino they wouldn’t let him overhaul the squad.


Does the US have anyone who would stand up like Gary Lineker?

Gary Lineker has been reinstated by the BBC after a brief suspension for tweet criticizing Great Britain’s immigration policy.

The farcical idea that sports and politics don’t mix has once again been shaken to its cardboard foundation with what’s been going on in the UK with Gary Lineker and the BBC (every time I hear or see “BBC” I can’t help but shout it like Austin Powers during the end credits of the first film, but that’s just me). Given their popularity, there is simply no way that it isn’t going to mix with how society governs and runs itself, and with all the complications that ensue.

What did Lineker tweet, anyway?

A quick refresher, as it started last week. Gary Lineker is the host of Match of the Day on BBC, a show that’s so institutional not just to sport in the land but the entire culture, and we’ll circle back around to that, and also one of England’s best players in history. Lineker used his Twitter platform to rail against the Tories’ proposal on how to curb immigration to the country, which isn’t really a problem, but they don’t have any ideas on anything else that wouldn’t wreck the country more than they already have, and compared it to the language used in Germany in the 30s. 


To be sure, the conservative party across the pond is no less paranoid, sensitive, and terrified of anyone pointing out their own idiocy as the one here. Home Secretary Suella Braverman, and one can’t help but notice how perfectly close her name is to Cruella Deville, couldn’t wait to wet herself, as did the Tory-aligned director general of the BBC Tim Davie, who took Lineker off the air for Saturday’s episode.


What Davie nor anyone else counted on was a host of analysts and reporters following Lineker out the door, such as Ian Wright or Alan Shearer or every commentator at the games that the BBC posts for their highlights. Players and managers refused to speak to BBC reporters, if they were even at the stadiums, in protest to the treatment of Lineker. All of their highlights shows had to air with no on-air talent or commentators at the matches, simply the atmospheric sounds from the games.

To understand this, one must understand the weight of Match of the Day. For some three decades, MOTD was the only way fans could see almost any clip of matches from the first division, before the Premier League broke away in 1992. Even with televised matches now the regular, there is still a blackout of any Premier League match on TV Saturdays at 3pm BST, which is the traditional kickoff time and still when most matches take place. To see highlights of them, everyone has to wait for MOTD on Saturday night. It is a one of a kind tradition on television.


There really is no comparison for American sports television. Maybe NFL Primetime on ESPN was once in the same stratosphere, but ever since Sunday Ticket (and especially Red Zone) and the way highlights are shown throughout the league no matter what games we are watching, NFL fans pretty much know everything that happened once Sunday 7pm EST rolls around. And now NBC has their Sunday wrap-up before Sunday Night Football anyway.

Lineker is the rare ex-player to move from the field and into a host/reporter role and do so seamlessly. He’s smooth, he’s surprisingly funny, sharp, and isn’t afraid to go beyond the normal, milktoast territory that we usually associate with a host of a show. You needn’t go any farther back than his commentary on the opening ceremony of the World Cup and the focus on Qatar’s heinous record in various fields for proof.


So no, the BBC and the UK government was never going to find a soft-touch in Lineker when it came to this, especially when added that Lineker doesn’t need the job. He’s universally beloved, has more money than he could probably ever spend, and there would be channels lining up to have him if he and the Beeb split. He was never going to walk back anything, because he honestly doesn’t have that much to lose. That power of comfort for him has only made his bosses and those in the rabbit-eared and crybaby government look even more ridiculous as they continue to throw their toys about the room. But that’s what happens when your prime minister and cabinet positions are filled with people who have always gotten what they wanted from birth.

Just this morning, the BBC was forced to backtrack and reinstate Lineker.

Does the US have a Gary Lineker?

It does make one wonder who could cause such a stir on this side of the Atlantic, with the sobering realization that the answer is probably no one. No sport is on its own on the mountain like soccer is in the UK, though the NFL would probably like to think it’s close. Tony Dungy is an anti-trans and homophobic dope (and James Brown has been similarly accused), and yet we just pass them off as part of the machine. CBS could replace Brown tomorrow and maybe there would be a slight fissure in the “I HATE WOKE BUT CAN’T SPELL IT” brigade, but not much more. Brown and Dungy certainly wouldn’t defy the government in such a public way if they actually went about protecting those groups as they should, because they’re too desperate to hang onto their jobs.


Curt Menefee doesn’t mean nearly as much. Maybe Dan Patrick once upon a time, but he’s moved aside and Maria Taylor doesn’t have that kind of cache yet. Joe Buck? That’s probably as close as you could get, and enough people hate him for foggy reasons that they would take the opposite side no matter what he says. But he’s certainly one of the few who’s been at the top of the industry long enough to not really care what happens to him and doesn’t really need the position more than it needs him, especially shifting to Monday Night Football (and Fox has missed him in the booth in both baseball and football no matter what they say).

Perhaps Don Cherry once had this kind of bullhorn in Canada, and well…look how that turned out.


Sports coverage, even when talking about hot-button issues that extend beyond sports, has always tried to appeal to the very middle. We know how terrified the NFL and NHL and MLB are of angering what they perceive to be their base. It’s disappointing that sports personalities who speak out, or at least the ones we hear about more, tend to only be on the conservative/hateful side, but then that aligns them with the party whose members tend to sign the checks, doesn’t it?

And could you ever imagine an entire staff walking out to support a colleague wrongly removed from their job? Taking a stand here doesn’t always embolden others, either, and there would probably be too many eying his or her post for themselves to follow.


There are similarities. An increasingly and more clearly incompetent and petty conservative side that can only stoke hate to try and maintain their followers called out on their shit with no viable defense so they just lash out at the actual calling out of said shit. Sports not hesitating to be part of that calling out. The difference is that soccer in the UK has always been in opposition to the Tories (go look up Margaret Thatcher and football to get a clear idea of why) whereas sports here have lately been a battleground for both sides. The immigration policies put forth by gleaming hedge fund Ken, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, are no more hateful than the ones we have here. And yet, hasn’t been much of a peep from anyone. FOX couldn’t even bring itself to mention anything going in Qatar, and that was a hanging curve (especially with rights to 2026 already promised to them).

Like always, we’ll just wait for Bomani to get to it on HBO. 

Is anyone else worried about (or sick of) Ted Lasso?

Jason Sudeikis at the Ted Lasso season three premiere held at the Regency Village Theater in Westwood, Calif.

The third season of Ted Lasso debuts next week, and I think we’ve officially hit our hype threshold for a sitcom, and definitely for a sitcom inspired by a commercial. (RIP Cavemen, the Geico caveman show, gone too soon.) If you haven’t watched the feel-good phenomenon, consider this a spoiler warning for every season, of which there are two.

The first season was a stroke of genius and hit at the perfect time — right when people really needed something to give them hope. Something to, if you will, believe in. The reason I’m worried about Ted Lasso season 3 has nothing to do with Jason Sudeikis, the constraints of the gimmick/premise, or Roy Kent showing up in an MCU post-credits scene. (Well maybe it has a little to do with the latter.)

What I’m worried about is society has fully moved on, at least mentally, from COVID. Our lives don’t revolve around the latest outbreak, and those of us who needed a smile have already got our fix, resumed our daily lives, and felt the cynicism creep back in.


The plot seems rather obvious, not to mention redundant, and I say that because the trailers for season three are a bunch of montages of Lasso and Co. smiling. All that happiness was needed in the middle of rampant depression, but now… now it’s just overkill.

The Jeni’s Ice Cream conundrum

When you mix Lasso’s brand of optimism with overexposure, it invites critics. Last weekend, my girlfriend saw that Jeni’s Ice Cream was debuting a Ted Lasso Biscuits with the Boss flavor and wanted to try it. Not a big deal, right? Who is planning their weekend around an ice cream release?


It certainly wasn’t us. It merely seemed like something to do on a Sunday afternoon. However, when we arrived at the Jeni’s, the employee behind the counter informed us that the Ted Lasso ice cream sold out in less than an hour at all their locations. (You like that on-the-ground reporting here from Nine News Deadspin?)

I’m not upset about an ice cream flavor as much as I’m annoyed by the fanfare. Ted Lasso was a niche show that exploded because it came along at the perfect moment, and now it’s Pharrell’s Happy from the Despicable Me movie. I don’t know if Lasso can withstand the scrutiny that comes with massive expectations. Yes, it has Emmys. So does The Big Bang Theory.


Lasso season two had lulls, and some episodes were sickeningly joyful. You know when you take a bite of a dessert that’s entirely too rich, that was what it felt like to watch the Lasso Christmas special. What was the plot? Christmas spirit?

Apparently, that episode was a late addition due to a directive from Apple, but that’s another red flag. Once a service knows they have a hit on its hands, they immediately try to boost its awareness and flood the market as if it didn’t greenlight a show based on a Premier League promo.


There’s always that moment in rom-coms when the protagonist gets so big that her face is plastered on the side of a bus that drives by at the most inopportune moment, and that’s the moment we’re at with Ted Lasso.