Antonio Conte’s belabored but seemingly inevitable exit from Tottenham Hotspur was just that, as Spurs announced the Italian legend’s exit late Sunday.
Conte went off on everyone at the club following a 3-3 draw with Southampton in Premier League Matchweek 28, and the international break did nothing to calm or rectify the situation.
“I see selfish players, I see players that don’t want to help each other and don’t put their heart [into the game],” Conte said at one point, later criticizing ownership, coaches, and staff. See the full press conference atop this post.
Cristian Stellini will stay on and oversee the season as “Acting Head Coach” with longtime Spurs man Ryan Mason assisting the Italian.
Conte, 53, was appointed Spurs boss on Nov. 2, 2021 following the firing of Nuno Espirito Santo, and helped Tottenham to a top-four finish and a return to the UEFA Champions League.
Spurs went unbeaten in their first seven matches to open the 2022-23 season, only losing away to West Ham and Chelsea, but a 3-1 loss at Arsenal in the North London derby started a run of ups and downs not normally associated with Conte teams.
After beating Brighton and Everton, Spurs failed to win consecutive Premier League matches between October 19 and late January, when Spurs beat Fulham and Man City on consecutive match days.
Tottenham was on a 5W-1D-2L Premier League run when Conte launched into his incredible rants following the Southampton draw. That, combined with a lifeless Champions League exit against AC Milan, was far too much to sustain him at the club.
Tottenham Hotspur statement on Antonio Conte
“We can announce that Head Coach Antonio Conte has left the Club by mutual agreement. We achieved Champions League qualification in Antonio’s first season at the Club. We thank Antonio for his contribution and wish him well for the future.
“Cristian Stellini will take the team as Acting Head Coach for the remainder of the season, along with Ryan Mason as Assistant Head Coach.
Daniel Levy, Chairman: ‘We have 10 Premier League games remaining and we have a fight on our hands for a Champions League place. We all need to pull together. Everyone has to step up to ensure the highest possible finish for our Club and amazing, loyal supporters.’”
It’s very strange that Spurs would wait one week into the international break and then announce that Conte was leaving without a new coach in place (Stellini was a long time Tottenham assistant).
Spurs are currently in fourth place on the table with 49 points, one point behind Manchester United, but Newcastle (47 points) and Liverpool 42 points) both have two matches-in-hand on Stellini’s men. Brighton’s also on 42 points and has three matches-in-hand on Spurs.
Stellini actually may have a pretty easy task presuming he didn’t follow up Conte’s comments about the players by yelling, “Yeah, I agree!”
There are points to be had along the way as Spurs return from break to meet Everton, Brighton, and Bournemouth, but the relatively soft landing ends with Newcastle, Manchester United, and Liverpool in the following three PL matches.
Palace, Villa, Brentford, and Leeds wind down the fixture list, so it’s reasonable to think Spurs will return to the Champions League if they can get through Liverpool on April 30 with a look at the top four.