Antonio Conte’s tenure as Tottenham Hotspur manager has been marked by controversy and frustration, leading many to question why he took the job in the first place. Some speculate that he accepted the position out of frustration after being overlooked by Manchester United, while others point to the £15 million salary as a significant factor. However, despite earning a significant sum, Conte has consistently blamed the dressing room and boardroom for setbacks, leading to criticism of his leadership style.
Conte has made it clear throughout his 16-month reign that he believes he is slumming it at Spurs. His recent outburst after a draw with Southampton plunged new depths in disrespect, as he called out Daniel Levy’s record over 20 years as chairman and branded his players “selfish”. While Conte was a title-winner in his three previous club jobs at Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan, he must have known that achieving the same feat at Spurs was unlikely, given that they are the seventh richest club in England.
Conte’s sneering tone began early on, when he frequently demanded a squad to match Tottenham’s world-class stadium and training ground, as if Levy had somehow got it wrong by building outstanding infrastructure for his club. Spurs have recruited well since Conte arrived in November 2021, with Rodrigo Bentancur and Dejan Kulusevski playing significant parts in Spurs qualifying for this season’s Champions League. Last summer’s window was also as good as Conte, or anyone else, could have reasonably expected. However, despite these signings, Spurs are often a desperately dull and predictable watch under Conte.
Conte is a demanding manager capable of short-term success, but he is also a tiresome bore who accused Roman Abramovich of not spending enough money during his prolonged second-season meltdown at Chelsea. Now he clearly wants out of Spurs, and many players will bid him good riddance. Spurs must now rebuild under an ambitious, upwardly mobile boss who does not suggest that he is doing them a favour by picking up his vast salary.
In other football news, England manager Gareth Southgate has been criticised for including Ivan Toney and Kyle Walker in his squad to face Italy and Ukraine. Toney has admitted to many of the 262 breaches of FA betting rules he has been charged with, while Walker was dealt with by a police ‘out-of-court disposal’ after an alleged incident of indecent exposure. While Southgate happily lauds his men as role models when they take admirable stands for social justice, he appears less willing to be a moral judge when England players behave immorally.
Meanwhile, Crystal Palace’s dismissal of Patrick Vieira over the phone was one of the shabbiest sackings English football has known. Palace have stopped looking forward and are swiftly heading backwards, leading some to speculate that Roy Hodgson may retire for a third time in as many seasons. Finally, Wolves have had a shocking run of refereeing decisions since the World Cup, but when Adama Traore refused to play to the whistle after a slight shirt pull and allowed Leeds through to score their final goal in the 4-2 win at Molineux, ref Michael Salisbury was wrong to wave play on by the letter of the law but correct by the spirit of the game.