Antonio Conte has blasted the ‘heart’ and ‘desire’ of his players after Tottenham surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 3-3 at Southampton.
Spurs went into the St Mary’s clash sitting in fourth place but just one point above a resurgent Newcastle. They are still in the Champions League places but now under even more pressure from Eddie Howe’s Magpies. Pedro Porro gave the north Londoners the lead just before half-time but Saints were back on level terms soon after the resumption.
Che Adams equalised just 47 seconds into the second period. But Harry Kane’s 65th-minute header and an excellent Ivan Perisic goal nine minutes later seemed to suggest the points were heading north.
However, Theo Walcott netted with 13 minutes to go before James Ward-Prowse slotted home a penalty three minutes into stoppage time.
The draw means that Spurs’ destiny is not in their own hands, with Newcastle finding their winning form once again.
Conte was not impressed. And he did not hold back in his assessment of what has been going wrong at the club.
“For the penalty for me it was not a penalty. Then we stop. We close the situation,” he told BBC Sport.
“The worst situation is what was happening on the pitch. What was happening in the last few months. What is happening in my second season.
“I think that it’s the right moment to speak because I think that after this performance, for me this is unacceptable.
“We are winning 3-1, in control and concede two goals and Fraser made saves. I think it’s better to go into the problem, we are not a team.
“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 rant almost a departing note
Most pundits feel that Conte will leave at the end of the campaign. The Tottenham faithful have struggled to get enthused with the football on offer under the Italian.
And his post-match comments at St Mary’s seemed like a resignation speech.
“Before today I try to hide the situation and improve the situation with words,” he added.
“About tactical and technical, it’s one situation, about one thing is the desire, the fire that you need to have in your eyes, your heart.
“You need to have this in every moment. This season compared to last, now we are worse in this aspect.
“When you are not a team you cannot improve. Don’t forget we played against a Sheffield United team with young players and we dropped out.”
Conte lambasts selfish Tottenham stars
There are a few pundits who feel Conte should be relieved of his post immediately to give a fresh impetus to their top-four hopes.
Only time will tell if that happens. But it is hard to see how he can work with his players again after his latest tirade.
“To understand we play for the badge. We play to make our fans proud of us,” he continued.
“You have to have desire. The fire in your eyes. If you have this you don’t have this you don’t go out in the FA Cup.
“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.”