Antonio Conte in angry meltdown at 'impatient' Tottenham fans and 'selfish' Richarlison
Antonio Conte has hit out at the Tottenham Hotspur fans and said he will not “kill himself” because of their lack of “patience”.
The Tottenham head coach also claimed he was the victim of his own success with an unrealistic expectation that the club would win trophies just because he has been a serial winner.
In an impassioned and extraordinary press conference Conte also:
Dropped more hints that he would be leaving at the end of the season
Claimed he signed a “strange contract” at Spurs when he joined in Nov 2021
Declared an apologetic Richarlison was “selfish” and was right to say his season had been “s---"
Accused the Spurs players of being a “bit soft”
However it will be Conte’s criticisms of the Spurs supporters that will cause the most annoyance with the Italian suggesting their “patience has finished” following the Champions League last-16 exit to AC Milan.
The 53-year-old, who returned to the touchline after recovering from having his gall bladder removed, said: “I don’t want to kill myself. I am really happy to work here and stay here. But at the same time, I have to take all the considerations, also for myself. If I have to put the stress and pressure only to myself, it is not right.”
Conte added: “Until the end (of the season) I am ready to die for this club and then we will see because I am not so stupid to continue to kill myself.”
He claimed it would take a “miracle” for Spurs to win a trophy the way things are. “The fans want to win a trophy. Stop,” Conte explained. “And then you have to find the right solution to make the fans happy and to win trophy in the future. Because the patience of the fans has finished. And we feel this. I feel this. The players feel this. For sure this does not help the situation.
“This is the reality. There is no patience. I ask for time and patience but I see that the patience has finished. Maybe the fans are right. But you don’t build the win one day, in two days. It’s difficult for me to realise this situation. It’s difficult because I am putting everything, me and the staff, to help the club, to try to build something. But at the same time I understand that maybe it’s not enough.”
Conte suggested the “environment” was not right at Spurs, who last won a trophy with the League Cup in 2008, but went on to clarify this was not the club’s fault. “The club has the patience. But the problem is the club also has to make the fans (patient),” he said. “If you don’t have patience and it un-useful, this. You understand?”
Conte, who has suffered personal tragedy with the deaths of three close friends in the past six months, has attempted to navigate a careful line over his future as he works to preserve his own reputation while not provoking an early departure with his contract expiring at the end of this campaign.
“You know with the club we signed a contract, a strange contract - one-year-and-a-half. Usually you sign a contract for three years but I think it was for the club and also for myself to see the situation,” Conte said.
“For the club to understand my personality, my capacity as a coach and for me from my side it was also the same. To understand if we were on the same page and if we wanted to do something important. Now after one year and a half, the club knows me, I know the club and it is clear this situation. For this reason I repeat, we have to finish the season and then we will see. The club knows very well what are my thoughts.”
After winning so many trophies with Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan Conte said there was an unrealistic expectation as to what he could achieve at Spurs.
“I remember very well when I arrived everybody said, ‘Now we have Conte - he won in the past, so now we are going to win!’,” he claimed.
“I can teach you the path to win, but you have to follow me. And have patience. I need time and patience and I understood I had that. Maybe I do have time, because the club can give me that. But I think there is no patience at the club.
“Maybe my past penalises me, you understand? If I was a coach who was a good coach but without a win in my career, I think it would be the perfect situation to enjoy working and growing together. But my past is different. My past brings expectation, high expectation.”
Conte: I think sometimes we are a bit soft
The fall-out from the Milan exit included £60million signing Richarlison giving an interview to TNT Sports Brazil in which he complained about his lack of game-time and admitted he had had a poor season.
“I watched the interview of Richarlison and he didn’t criticise me. He said my season is 's---' and he is right because his season is no good,” Conte said.
“If you ask me for rest of the interview I think that the guy understood very well that he made mistake because when you speak with ‘I, I and I’, not with us, it means you are thinking only about yourself and you are selfish,” he stated. “The guy (Richarlison) understood very well and he apologised.”
As for the Spurs squad, Conte added: “I have good guys but sometimes it is not enough to be a good guy. Sometimes you have to show the right desire; sacrifice to yourself to fight to win the game, to win the duals. To be nasty and, yeah, I think sometimes we are a bit soft.”