WITH every babble, every insult, and every Spursy surrender, we keep coming back to the same old question: “Why the hell did Antonio Conte even take this job?”
Conte had snubbed Tottenham in the summer of 2021 as they orchestrated their absurd 72-day search for Jose Mourinho’s replacement and ended up with poor old Nuno ‘Dispirito’ Santo.
Some well-informed sources believe the turbulent Italian took the job the second time he was asked in a fit of frustration after being overlooked by Manchester United during Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s dog days.
Others come with the more obvious answer that £15m is hellish salary to be turned down.
And it’s certainly a sizeable sum for the pants when you consistently respond to setbacks by passing the buck to the locker room and boardroom.
Imagine making that much money and still feeling free to slaughter your employers and subordinates every time you screw up. Good job if you can get it.
Conte has made it pretty damn clear during his 16-month reign that he thinks he’s screwing things up at Spurs.
But Saturday’s epic tantrum, after his side threw away a two-goal advantage at bottom Southampton, plunged to new depths of disrespect as he challenged Daniel Levy’s record 20-year chairmanship and branded his players “selfish”.
Sure, Conte was a title-winner in his three previous club jobs at Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan.
But he must surely have known that he would probably never achieve the same feat at Spurs, the seventh richest club in England.
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To paraphrase Sir Alex Ferguson’s shortest and greatest team talk: “Boy, it’s Tottenham”.
For the record, Spurs reached the Champions League final four years ago.
Conte has only reached one quarter-final in six attempts with four different clubs.
So maybe there should be a limit to his arrogance.
Conte’s mocking tone began early on as he frequently called for a squad that could rival Tottenham’s world-class stadium and training ground, as if Levy had somehow gotten it wrong by building an excellent infrastructure for his club.
Spurs have recruited well since Conte’s arrival in November 2021.
Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski were superb signings in January last year and played a key role in Spurs qualifying for this year’s Champions League.
And last summer’s showcase was as good as Conte, or anyone else, could reasonably have expected.
They bought quality and experience and, unusually for Levy, bought it early.
However, Conte doesn’t want to take responsibility for the fact that players with the impressive pedigree of Richarlison, Ivan Perisic, Yves Bissouma and Clement Lenglet all bombed.
Under Conte, Spurs are often a desperately dull and predictable watch, as exemplified when they squandered excellent chances to progress in two knockout contests.
Losses to Sheffield United in the FA Cup and AC Milan in the Champions League seemed entirely avoidable.
Harry Kane was benched for the drive to Bramall Lane. Had Spurs won there, they would have reached a quarter-finals at home against Blackburn and could look forward to a semi-final at Wembley against a Manchester City side they have beaten regularly in recent seasons.
Against AC Milan, Spurs were passive and overly cautious as they chased a 1-0 deficit in the first leg.
Had they won, they would be in for an inviting half of the draw with Napoli, Inter and Benfica.
Another appearance in the Champions League final would have been quite possible.
It’s hard to say which Spurs players Conte considers ‘selfish’. A lot of them don’t play very well, some just aren’t good enough. But “selfish”?
The only obvious example of selfishness lately was when Cristian Romero was sent off for two reckless tackles against Milan.
And Conte appeared to give his Argentine world champions a free pass by accusing his team of being “too soft” after that Champions League elimination.
Conte is a demanding manager capable of short-term success.
But he’s also an annoying bore, even blaming Roman Abramovich for underspending during his ongoing meltdown in his second season at Chelsea.
Now he clearly wants out of Spurs and many players will get rid of him. Let’s not forget that Conte has endured bereavement and a serious bout of illness this season.
He probably needs a rest, physically and mentally.
Although, as author Adam Powley so brilliantly put it on Twitter, “Conte is the only man in medical history to have had his gallbladder removed, but he can store more bile.”
Conte for Spurs has been an uncomfortable marriage for both parties and the divorce is long overdue.
Spurs must now be rebuilt under an ambitious, up-and-coming boss. And certainly not one who suggests he’s doing them a favor by collecting his huge salary.
Gareth’s Mo role support
So are English players role models or not?
Gareth Southgate is fond of praising his men when they do admirable work for social justice, but he wasn’t big enough in the whole thing to set an example when he called up Ivan Toney and Kyle Walker to his Italy and Ukraine squad .
Toney has admitted many of the 262 FA betting rules violations he has been charged with, while Walker has been treated by an “extrajudicial injunction” from police following an alleged incident of indecent exposure.
England boss says he is ‘not a moral judge’ In truth, he is more than willing to be a moral judge when English players behave morally, just not when they play and flash.
Crystal Palace always seemed like one of the last bastions of old-school down-to-earth propriety in the Premier League.
But for a man as great as Patrick Vieira to be sacked over the phone – two days before a trip to his beloved Arsenal and with a friendly string of games next for the Eagles – was one of the shabbiest sackings English football has ever seen.
Now we can witness a third “retirement” in as many seasons by Roy Hodgson.
Palace has stopped looking ahead and is quickly walking backwards.
Wolves have endured a shocking series of refereeing decisions since the World Cup.
So it seems unfair to welcome a poor refereeing decision that went against them – but we’ll try.
When Adama Traore refused to play to the whistle after a slight jersey pull and Leeds allowed the final goal in the 4-2 win at Molineux, wavering referee Michael Salisbury on by the letter of the law was wrong – but right by the spirit of the game.
https://www.the-sun.com/sport/7679353/antonio-conte-tottenham-job-rant/ Antonio Conte’s epic tirade marked a new low for the beleaguered Tottenham boss – so why the heck would he even take the job?