Conte press conference: My players were selfish

18 Mar 2023
Antonio Conte presser grab v4

Read the transcript of Spurs head coach's extraordinary reaction after the draw at Southampton

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After seeing his team let slip a two-goal lead late on to draw 3-3 with Southampton, Tottenham Hotspur head coach Antonio Conte expressed his anger at his players and beyond.

Here is the transcript from his extraordinary post-match press conference at St Mary's Stadium. 

TV Info

A tough penalty decision to take but at 3-1 up with 15 minutes to go, should your team be drawing that match?
Conte: "If we are going to discuss about the penalty it means we don't want to see other situations. For the penalty for me it was not a penalty. I stop, we close the situation. The worst situation is what was happening on the pitch. What has been happening in the last few months, what's happening in this, 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 of the game and you are able to concede two goals and to risk, because also Fraser [Forster] made a fantastic save in one situation.

"I think it's much better to go into the problem, because the problem is that for another time we showed that we are not a team.

"We are 11 players that go into the pitch. I see selfish players. I see players that don't want to help each other and don't put their heart [into it].

"First of, today I prefer to hide this situation and to try to speak, to try to improve the spirit, the situation, with the words. With a lot of situations. Because about tactical or technical aspect, this is one situation.

"The most important thing if you want to become a strong team, if you want to become competitive, if you want to fight to win, is the desire, the fire that you need to have in your eyes, in your heart. And you have to show this in every moment. In every moment.

"If I have to compare last season and this season, I said to improve, now we are worse in this aspect. When you are not a team, everything can happen, in any moment. Today is the last situation. Don’t forget that in the FA Cup we lost to Sheffield United, who played with young players. We were able with a strong team to be dropped in FA Cup. And then a lot of situations, I repeat, that we are not going to improve. And I am not speaking about tactical aspect or technical aspect.

"To be a team, to be a team, to be a team, this the most important thing. To understand that we play for the badge. We have to play to make our fans proud of us. We have to play to show desire. The fire in your eyes to win. If you have this, for sure, you don't go out in the FA Cup. Today, you win. Maybe, previously, in the other games, maybe, maybe something can change.

"But here, we're used to it for a long time. The club has the responsibility for the transfer market, every coach that stayed here has the responsibility. And the players? The players? Where are the players? About my experience, I can tell you that if you want to be competitive, if you want to fight, you have to improve this aspect. And now this aspect, for me, in this moment is really, really low. And I see only 11 players that play for themselves."

Antonio, this is a difficult question to ask but do you think your position, the uncertainty over your future…?
Conte: "You are finding an alibi, another alibi. You try to find an alibi, an excuse for the players. OK, continue, continue to do this, to find an excuse for the players. You do only this! You do only this. Excuses for the players. But the players, maybe, my future, then they lost confidence, they lost spirit, they lost being a team. Excuse. Excuse. Excuse. Try to protect, try to protect them every time.

"Come on, come on, come on. We are professional. We pay, the club paid us a lot of money. The players receive money, me receive money, you understand? Not to find excuse and don't have spirit or don't show a sense of belonging or don't show a sense of responsibility because we are showing this. And for me this is unacceptable, for me. Because this is the first time in my career to see a situation like this. And until now I wasn't able to change, not to change but compare to last season the situation went to become worst."

Why is it happening?
Conte: "Why? I don't know because they are used to it here. They are used to it here. They don't play for something important, yeah. 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. Twenty years there is the owner and they never won something, but why? The fault is only for the club, or for every manager that stay here? I have seen the managers that Tottenham had on the bench. You risk to disrupt the figure of the manager and to protect the other situation in every moment.

"And now, until now I try to hide the situation but now, no, because I repeat I don't want to see what I have seen today because this is unacceptable also for the respect for the fans. They follow us, pay [for] the tickets and to see the team another time to have this type of performance, for me, I repeat, this is unacceptable. We have to think a lot, we have to think a lot about this."

You saw the fire last week. What has changed?
Conte: "I said that I want to see the fire, not that I have seen. It is different. I said that I want to see the fire in their eyes. I want to see the fire in their hearts. I want to see the right spirit. OK, not only in the training session, in the pitch. Because here you have to make the difference. And I am not seeing this.

"And until now I try to hide the situation but now, there are 10 games to go and something thinks that we can fight. Fight for what with this spirit? With this attitude? With this commitment? For what? For seventh, eighth, 10th place? I am not used to this position. I’m really upset and everyone has to take their responsibility.

"Not only the club, not only the manager, the staff. The players have to be involved in this situation because it is time to change this situation if Tottenham want to change. If they want to continue in this way, they can change manager, a lot of managers, but the situation cannot change. Believe me.

"Thank you very much."


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