Antonio Conte certainly cut a frustrated figure last night at Turf Moor as his Tottenham side fell to their fourth defeat in five games, and rightly so.
Just days after defeating Man City 3-2 at the Etihad, the exact same starting XI both struggled to break down a relegation-battling Burnley and conceded a late set-piece goal.
Many on social media took Conte’s post-match outburst to mean his frustrations had grown so much that he wants an early route out of North London.
The Italian boss said: “I have to talk to the club I am too honest to close my eyes and continue in this way, and also take my salary. I want to take my responsibility. I am open for every decision because I want to help Tottenham.
“I came in to try and improve the situation with Tottenham but maybe in this moment, I am not so good to improve it. I’m trying to do everything to change the situation, but the situation is not changing.”
Yes, on the surface, this does seem like a doom and gloom statement, hinting towards a possible termination of his contract with Tottenham. However, I think Conte is far too smart for that.
When he took on this project, he knew that plenty had tried and failed before him. Pochettino in his final year, Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo, even Ryan Mason had his struggles.
The former Inter Milan manager would not have been so naïve as to think he could waltz in and immediately do what these other footballing brains could not.
Instead, I think his dramatic and emotional comments were more of an aggressive message to the board and the players. To Daniel Levy and ENIC, Conte is saying ‘I need you to back me in the transfer market to get us out of this mess’.
To the players, he is saying ‘I need you to prove that you deserve to still be here next season’.
If we take a look at some of his other quotes, Conte clearly put an emphasis on the quality of the squad, stating the same players had remained through a multitude of managers in North London.
He said: “The situation, the players are always the same. This club changes coaches but the players remain the same. But the result doesn’t change.”
Conte is the man to turn a struggling team into a trophy-winning team. He has shown that throughout his career.
However, when you want to turn around fortunes in a short space of time, with the Italian only having a short-term deal in N17, you need to spend money.
In January, Levy and Paratici took the decision to sell Dele Alli, a player who once had a sky-high value but had fallen on tough times.
They also parted ways with Tanguy Ndombele, the club’s record signing, and the similarly expensive Giovani Lo Celso on loans with options to buy.
There is a clear desire to conduct a massive overhaul of the squad and even the big names who were brought in for big money are not safe. That is the way Conte has always operated.
If Daniel Levy and ENIC are to convince Conte to see this project through, and I think the future of the ownership depends on that very scenario, then they need to give him guarantees of summer spending.
Levy needs to sit down with Conte and make it clear that anyone he does not want will be put up for sale and Spurs will do their best to bring the Italian’s top targets through the door in return.
In my opinion, Tottenham need a new left-sided central defender. We need a new right-wing back. We need a striker who can both compete with and back up Harry Kane. We need a creative midfielder capable of picking the lock like Eriksen used to. We need a new holding midfielder.
We need to ship out fringe players who are no longer competing for places and players who Conte does not like or trust – no matter how long they have been at the club.
Yes, this summer may be a costly one for ENIC. However, Levy is a smart businessman and he will know how much Conte leaving would also cost the club.
With fans already split down the middle when it comes to ENIC In and ENIC Out, a world-class manager choosing to leave could prove to be the straw that broke the owner’s back.
Conte is one of the sharpest minds in modern-day football, but even the most talented professional cannot complete a masterpiece without his tools.
It is up to Levy to both promise and then deliver these tools over the next six months, or else we could be moving towards the beginning of the end for ENIC’s reign in North London.
Leave a comment
Follow SpursWebSeb on Twitter