A Spectre Arrives At The Famine
Let’s be absolutely clear.
Despite the team’s abject collapse on Saturday against Southampton, in which Tottenham Hotspur somehow contrived to throw away a late-stage two-goal lead and sacrifice two vital points in the race for a Champions League place, it was nevertheless entirely wrong for Antonio Conte to deliver ‘that’ rant during the resulting press conference. In delivering the prolonged, savage diatribe we all witnessed, Spurs’ Italian manager threw his players and the entire club under the same metaphorical bus which Jose Mourinho once bemoaned Jacques Santini having parked in front of the goal against his Chelsea team, whilst taking no responsibility whatsoever for his own part in the omnishambles.
It’s important to remember that the team’s performances this season – particularly since the curious mid-season interlude caused by the World Cup in Qatar – have been noticeably better in the absence of Conte’s growling, sullen visage glaring at the players from the touchline, with the more amiable demeanours of Cristian Stellini and Ryan Mason providing a far less hostile working environment during his enforced absences.
More fundamentally though, for him to launch into such a tirade, dismantling the club, its hierarchy, and the players for whom he has the responsibility to ensure continued motivation, was beyond unprofessional. In no business in the world would it be acceptable for a senior manager to slaughter both their employer and all the key employees operating under that same manager’s direction, not only in front of all that business’ customers (in this case ‘the fans’) but also in front of the world’s media. Such behaviour would unquestionably be grounds for ending that manager’s employment in short order. We can doubtless anticipate exactly that course of action unfolding over the coming days.
In any case, were he to remain, with their having received such a verbal mauling from their own manager, Conte surely cannot reasonably expect to maintain the support, motivation and loyalty of his players that is so patently unrequited on his side.
It’s not like he’s been demonstrating any long-term commitment to the club anyway, with his contract hanging over them like the Sword of Damocles. With this latest barrage, they’re hardly likely to be willing to run through brick walls for him now, are they? If they ever were. An assault like Saturday afternoon’s Italian pipe-bomb is clearly not the way to win friends and influence people.
His position is now completely untenable. In every possible way, it was unequivocally wrong for him to have said what he did.
But let’s also be absolutely clear about this – somebody had to say it.
Because it’s all true.
It’s been a while since I wrote one of my Levyworld articles for this site. In fact, I think the most recent one was probably around the last time the Tottenham managerial situation devolved into farce with the inevitable and highly-anticipated exit of Nuno Espirito-Santo.
Nevertheless, here we all are again, still trapped within the confines of the same horrifying unamusement park that is Levyworld, at the eye of yet another managerial hurricane and with playing performances to once again make you weep.
The accommodation at this park does tend to resemble Hotel California – the players can check out anytime they like (often in the middle of matches), but we can never leave. We sit here, hoping against hope (and all historical evidence to the contrary) that Daniel Levy identifies an inspired new manager and wholeheartedly backs them in the transfer market, somehow deluding ourselves that this time it’ll be different, and that this manager will deliver genuine success, thriving in an environment built to yield trophies, and in a club that behaves like a big club with a culture of winning.