Tottenham Hotspur manager Antonio Conte has launched a scathing attack on his “selfish” players and called out Daniel Levy following his side’s 3-3 stalemate with Southampton in the Premier League.
The Lilywhites threw away a 3-1 lead to draw with the Premier League’s basement side, who rescued a point in second-half stoppage time through a James Ward-Prowse penalty.
Harry Kane and Ivan Perisic restored Tottenham’s advantage, but the North London side were at sixes and sevens defensively, and Southampton immediately reduced the deficit through ex-Arsenal man Theo Walcott.
With three minutes gone in injury time, Pape Sarr clipped Ainsley Maitland-Niles inside the area, and Ward-Prowse sent the resulting penalty into the top corner to complete a thrilling Saints comeback.
Conte did not hold back in an unprecedented post-game press conference, claiming that his team are only playing for themselves and blaming Levy’s stewardship for the Lilywhites’ lengthy trophyless streak.
The North London club are yet to lift a major trophy since the 2007-08 EFL Cup, and their hopes of FA Cup and Champions League glory both came to an end against Sheffield United and AC Milan respectively earlier this month.
“We are 11 players that go into the pitch. I see selfish players, players that don’t want to help each other and don’t put their heart,” Conte said, as quoted by football.london.
“Here we are used to for a long time. The club has the responsibility for the transfer market, the coach has the responsibility. But the players, where are the players? I see only 11 players that play for themselves.
“Now there are 10 games to go and someone thinks we can fight with this attitude, with this spirit, for what the seventh, eight place? What? I am not used to fighting for this. It’s every one’s responsibility.
“They are used to it here. They don’t play for something important. They don’t want to play under pressure, they don’t want to play under stress. It is easy in this way. Tottenham’s story is this for 20 years. There’s the owner but they never won something.”
Levy was in attendance at St Mary’s as Tottenham failed to win away from home for the fifth game running, putting their top-four hopes in serious jeopardy heading into the final two months of the season.
Tottenham are still clinging onto the fourth and final Champions League spot in the table, but Newcastle United are only two points behind with two games in hand, while Liverpool have a six-point gap to make up having played a game fewer.
Conte is due to leave Tottenham upon the expiration of his contract this summer – the consensus now is that the Italian will not be signing an extension – but he insisted that uncertainty surrounding his future cannot be used as an excuse for their wildly inconsistent form.
“Excuses. Excuses. Excuses. Try to protect them every time. Bah. Come on, come on. We are professionals. The club paid us a lot of money, the players receive money. I received money. Not to find excuses,” Conte added.
“If they want to continue in this way, they can change the manager, a lot of managers, but the situation cannot change. Believe me.”
Tottenham’s first game back following the international break sees them travel to Goodison Park to meet Everton on April 3.
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