Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte made explosive comments about the mentality of the club and his players in the wake of Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Southampton in the Premier League.
Conte has been under increasing pressure in recent weeks, but Spurs were leading 3-1 against the Saints and looked to be heading towards an important victory until conceding twice late on – including a 97th minute equaliser from the penalty spot.
A visibly annoyed Spurs boss wasn’t shy about giving his true opinions afterwards, labelling players as ‘selfish’, accusing them of not working as a team and even suggesting that Spurs are ‘used to’ repeatedly underachieving under the current owner.
“In this moment, when we play a game, anything can happen. Usually, my teams show stability, not up and down, up and down,” he told Sky Sports.
“We are losing the work that we did last season. I’m not talking about the tactical aspect, I’m talking about the spirit, about the sense of responsibility, about the heart that we put into the pitch. To lose these characteristics, from my experience, you can lose a game against a team from the Championship with a ‘half team’ like Sheffield United – I remember they played with younger players, not the first-team, and we lost and dropped out of the FA Cup.
“Today, against Southampton, we are winning 3-1 and my perception is everything can happen in every moment and to be scared of what happened.
“The coach is responsible, the club is responsible…the players have to take their responsibility because what we have seen in the last few months, I don’t like. I’m not used to seeing these types of situation. I see a lot of selfish players and I don’t see a team.
“You can close one or two eyes, but it’s right to keep eyes open and tell the truth. We all have to take responsibility, not only the club for the transfer market, for the coach. Tottenham have had important coaches in the past, but the problem was always the same.
“If we start to think that the players take responsibility, it’s the right moment if you want to improve. Otherwise, I think for the rest of the season, we risk finishing outside Europe [qualification].”
Conte added in his post-match press conference: “They’re used to it here. Don’t play for something important. They don’t want to play under pressure. They don’t want to play under stress.
“Tottenham’s story is this. 20 years there is the owner and they never won something. Why?
“Until now I try to hide the situation. But there are 10 games to go. People think we can fight? Fight for what? With this attitude, this spirit, this commitment. For seventh? Eighth place? I am really upset.
“If they want to continue in this way, they can change the manager, a lot of managers, but the situation cannot change. Believe me.“