Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte seemed to hint at a potential departure from the club this summer after a 1-0 loss to Burnley Wednesday afternoon. This was the club’s fourth loss in its last five Premier League outings and moved them to eighth in the league with two games in hand on leaders Manchester City.
“We are doing everything to change the situation, but it’s not enough,” said Conte. “Four defeats out of five is not good enough.”
Antonio Conte’s Tottenham Tenure
Conte helped turn Spurs around very quickly after being enlisted as the team’s coach on November 2, 2021, as Nuno Espirito Santo’s replacement. Spurs quickly moved up the Premier League table, out of form star Harry Kane started scoring goals again, and the team looked like legitimate challengers for top-four in the league.
Tottenham’s expected goals (xG) changed offensively and defensively and the team began playing with an identity— one that they had lacked severely under their past couple of coaches.
A recent downswing in form has drawn more criticism from Conte, however, who has never been one to bite his tongue. The four-time Italian League, one-time Premier League, and one-time FA Cup winner has a history of creating ripples at clubs he has worked with, usually regarding player recruitment and finances.
“Tottenham called me to change things but I’m too honest,” said Conte after the Burnley loss. “I could just take my salary, but I’m too honest.”
The Italian’s stark remarks are a harsh reminder to Spurs fans about the turmoil that has been brewing at their club for many years; disgruntled players, a managerial carousel, and a cheap chairman in Daniel Levy have all contributed to Tottenham’s mediocrity in the modern era.
Spurs’ last major trophy was the Football League Cup, which they won in the 2007-08 campaign. The closest they have come to winning a major trophy since was when they finished as runners-up to Chelsea in the 2016-17 Premier League season and were defeated by Liverpool in the 2018-19 Champions League Final.
The season appeared to have hit a turning point last week when Tottenham defeated Man City 3-2 behind a brace and 95th-minute winner from golden boy Harry Kane. New signings Dejan Kulusevski and Rodrigo Bentancur also featured, with the former breaking the deadlock early in the fourth minute.
“I want to help Tottenham from the first day I arrive,” said Conte Wednesday. “It is not right at this moment.”
Conte has been pressuring the Tottenham board since nearly the first day that he arrived, constantly reminding the media that he is not satisfied with the quality or depth of his squad and that he cannot be expected to challenge for trophies without financial backing.
Spurs’ manager famously told the media that his team was nowhere near the level of arch-rival Chelsea, a team that he won the 2016-17 Premier League title with, after a decisive loss earlier in the year. This rubbed many fans the wrong way but stayed true to his character of being open and, as he says, “too honest.”
“I’m trying to do everything but the situation is not changing,” said Conte after the Burnley loss. “Because, if we continue in this way, maybe we have to pay great attention because in this league we can finish 10th, 12th, 13th— the same way that when I arrive here, the same position.”
Rumors have long been circulating regarding Conte’s departure from Tottenham, but a move now looks more likely than ever before. The former Inter Milan boss never wanted to leave his old job but was forced out for financial reasons, so it is not hard to imagine him returning if presented the opportunity.
Tottenham will also be embarrassed by the constant bashing of the team from its leader, which could force the club into releasing him from his contract without having an adequate replacement lined up. This is a similar situation as to what happened at Manchester United, who fired Ole Gunnar Solskjær for poor performance but have looked even worse under the new interim manager, Ralf Rangnick.
Spurs will be back in action this Saturday for a Premier League matchup with 15th-place Leeds United and could move up to seventh with a win, pending the result of seventh-place Wolverhampton Wanderers and sixth-place Arsenal Football Club.