The reporting circulating around Antonio Conte’s immediate future at Tottenham Hotspur has been a bit frenetic since his emotional 10 minute outburst after Spurs’ 3-3 draw against Southampton on Saturday. As reports of his comments throwing his players under the bus circulated in the media, the initial suggestion was that he was likely going to be fired post haste. As time went on, counter-reports suggested that Conte had privately clarified his comments to Tottenham leadership and that the board had accepted his explanations.
Now the pendulum is swinging back the other way again. According to Matt Law in the Telegraph (lol yes I know) and
Trent Crimm Miguel Delaney in the Independent, Tottenham are still in the process of deciding what to do about Conte, and firing him during the upcoming international break is still very much on the table.
First, Delaney says that Conte’s comments about his players’ lack of desire and selfishness predictably went over like a lead balloon in the changing room. Delaney calls the atmosphere among players as “close to toxic” and that players, who were already grumbling about his methods, were privately declaring their dissatisfaction about Conte’s comments. Conte reportedly didn’t even speak to his players after the Southampton match, but left them in the changing room before speaking directly to the media in the press conference.
Meanwhile, Matt Law, who rarely misses an opportunity to stick the knife into Tottenham, writes that Levy is currently speaking to close friends and associates about what to do with Conte after Saturday’s outburst, but that if he decides to part ways with Conte early, Ryan Mason would take control of the club as an interim manager for the second time.
Frankly, if the atmosphere around the players are even half as toxic as how they’re currently being described, I can’t see a way that Conte’s tenure is at all tenable going forward. Spurs have a lot to play for — they’re somehow still in the mix for top four which says a lot about the overall quality of the league below the top two teams — but if Conte’s lost the dressing room, it doesn’t speak well to their ability to bring that home, unless you consider “spite” to be the driving influence.
Conte may have slammed his players, but as I and many others have pointed out, he’s only acknowledging the one finger pointing to them and not the other four pointing squarely at himself. It’s curious that Levy would be this on the fence about the idea of firing Conte now: he’s never been this hesitant to sack managers when things aren’t working out before, so why now? It’s not a surprise that the players wouldn’t exactly be too excited about playing for a man who has done a crappy job coaching the team with inflexible tactics and a lack of meaningful rotation, while he criticizes the team and simultaneously refuses to commit to being part of the solution.
My guess is that Levy will eventually come to the conclusion that many of us have: Conte’s time is over, and the only thing left is to try and salvage what’s left of the season under an interim manager before a full rebuild this summer. Who knows when we’ll find out about that, though.