Conte arrived at Spurs in November to succeed the sacked Nuno Espirito Santo, just a few months after inspiring Inter Milan to Serie A title but after four months he sounded like a man ready to resign, rather than wait to be dismissed in his latest moan to the media.
Conte appeared to criticize the Spurs hierarchy in an interview with the Italian media last week, expressing his frustration at an underwhelming January transfer window which has led to many exit talks from the press. However, the history of the Italian Manager shows he’s not a man to walk away from such feeble matters.
Conte initially committed to Spurs on an 18-month deal until the end of next season, although his contract includes an option to extend. Conte insisted the decision to agree an 18-month deal was mutual but suggested Spurs would have to match his ambition if he is to stay long-term.
Speaking to the media after 2-0 defeat to Chelsea in the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg, the head coach warned that Spurs are “in the middle” and suggested it would take more than a year to rebuild the club. “Believe me, we need so much time before we [repair] the situation,” Conte said.
“We decided together, the club and I, to go for this decision,” Conte said ahead of Sunday’s FA Cup third-round tie against Morecambe.
“I don’t need a long contract to be sure to work for a club. I think that the club has to appreciate my job and then to extend my contract. But only if I showed the club I deserve this.”
Antonio Conte has always been a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. Conte is and always has been a person who is, for lack of a better term, emotional.
DOWN TO THE HISTORY LANE
Back in 2019 at Inter Milan, the rhetoric from Antonio Conte was strikingly similar to the stance he has taken about Tottenham Hotspur.
Ahead of the new season, he played down expectations that the €74million capture of Romelu Lukaku put the side right up there with Napoli and Juventus in the Serie A title race.
Although he didn’t rule out a bid for the title, the new boss refused to suggest the side was a nailed-on contender.
“We’re working in the right way, we want to build something significant,” he said at the time.
There is a gap with some other teams, but we don’t want to limit ourselves, and I don’t want to create any excuses for my players. I don’t know what we’ll be fighting for, but I know that we have to work harder than others.”
It turned out not to be such a bad assessment, that year the club managed to finish second in the table and got to the final of the Europa League.
That summer he turned up the heat on Inter’s owners, appearing at one point to be so unsatisfied he might be headed out the door.
Ultimately he stayed, the club brought in the reinforcements he desired and Conte delivered, Inter won its first league title in a decade.
The reason for the 51-year-old’s dramatic exit just weeks after winning the Nerazzuri’s first Scudetto in 11 years was down to the direction of the club under controversial owner Steven Zhang.
Inter’s financial situation amid the coronavirus pandemic were so dire that a £250million loan from Oaktree Capital has just about kept them afloat.
Hearing that a further £87m was needed from players sales like in the window. Players which includes Romelu Lukaku, Archaf Hakimi, Conte argued and stepped aside.
When Antonio Conte took over as coach of Juventus back in 2011, Italy’s most successful side were at rock bottom. His impact on Juventus is unmeasurable.
After a quarter-final finish in 2012-13 and a humiliating group stage exit last term, Juventus’ next step is to truly challenge for the Champions League. In order to do so, Conte had made it very clear publicly burst with the board.
“If someone thinks I am happy just winning the league, they are mistaken. We must continue to build,” he stressed.
It was the initial failure to accept these demands that almost led to Conte walking away from the club in May, before he finally signed a contract extension. It had appeared with that decision that both Conte and the club had agreed on a plan to take Juventus to the next level.
However, with the Old Lady board revealed financial worries meant little was available in the transfer window and players like Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba were going to be sold in the next few years to balance the books.
Despite his good relationship with Juventus CEO Andrea Agnelli, Conte shouted, ‘I can’t sit at the 100 euro restaurant if I only have 10 euro in my pocket’ and walked away.
Conte spent two seasons in charge at Stamford Bridge, arriving in the summer of 2016 after managing Italy at that summer’s European Championships winning the League in his first season.
But the year-long honeymoon at Stamford Bridge soon turned sour.
Conte sent star striker Diego Costa a 27-word text message that the Spanish-Brazilian forward was no longer in his plans. The forward had scored 20 top-flight goals in Conte’s title-winning campaign and his reaction was furious.
Costa then sent the text to his closest team-mates and officials at the club and went public with his frustrations. With the striker then being asked to train with the reserves in pre-season, a cloud of negativity towards Conte from players, fans and pundits was already there by the time the title defence began.
However, in the summer after winning the League, Conte openly complained about the players at his disposal.
“We need to improve the quality and improve the squad because next season will be very tough for us,” he said.
To put the timing of the outburst into context, Chelsea had just broken their transfer record to buy Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid for £58million and also Tiemoue Bakayoko. Antonio Rudiger and Willy Caballero had arrived but the Italian prefers Romelu Lukaku & Van dijk. Neither request was granted, increasing the level of tension between Conte and the board.
At one stage, it appeared possible that Conte would leave last summer but stayed before being sacked for mismanagement of his players Especially Costa, and the rest which Includes David Luiz, Willian and even Eden Hazard was unhappy as per the reports.
However, compared to Tottenham’s situation, the facts of the case is different – Conte has not fell out with Tottenham’s players and Levy not ready to receive bids for any of his talented players – rejected City’s Kane bid even before the the appointment of the Italian gaffer.
Conte is doing what he knows how to do best – playing the fans and the board against each other.
Naturally the fans will side with the manager when he publicly demands increased ambition and investment in the team and given the sour relationship between Levy and Fans, he won’t be able able to handle the backlash. A prime example is below :
Former Spurs player O’Hara speaking on Talksport :
We broke him Jase [Cundy], we broke him,” he said on The Sports Bar.
“If he walks, I’m not watching Spurs again this season.
“The best manager we’ve had, I think in the Premier League years and he’s going to walk after six [sic] months.
According to the Athletic, Daniel Levy is understood to have been frustrated by Conte’s comments last week questioning the transfer policy. He is planning constructive talks with Conte.
It seems unlikely that Conte will walk away. It was only 48 hours ago that the Italian said in a press conference how happy he was working at Spurs.
His comments will not have gone unnoticed by the powers that be and it seems sensible to assume that chairman Daniel Levy will sit down with the Italian. Levy has to convince Conte that he is the right man to take Spurs forward as the beleaguered chairman cannot afford to lose one of the best coaches in the world, with fan sentiment already turning.
Conte will be expecting a huge reaction from his players when they visit Leeds on Saturday lunchtime.