Antonio Conte has hit out at his Tottenham players after their late collapse in Saturday’s 3-3 draw with Southampton, accusing them of being ‘selfish’, lacking fight and ‘not playing for the team’.
The north Londoners looked to be cruising to a rare away win at St Mary’s after second-half goals from Harry Kane and Ivan Perisic had put the side 3-1 ahead after 74 minutes.
But former Arsenal striker Theo Walcott halved the deficit just moments later after some shambolic defending before the hosts were granted a controversial penalty in stoppage time, which James Ward-Prowse dispatched.
Conte, who is out of contract at the end of the season and widely expected to leave Spurs, was annoyed with the penalty decision but infinitely more angry with his own players, slamming their display and questioning their commitment and fight – both this season and for the past 20 years.
Speaking after the game, the visibly furious Italian said: ‘For the penalty for me it was not a penalty. Then we stop. We close the situation. 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 [Forster] made saves.
‘I think it’s better to go into the problem, we are not a team. We are 11 players that go onto the pitch. I see selfish players, players that don’t want to help each other and don’t put their heart.
‘Before today I try to hide the situation and improve the situation with words, 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.
‘[The players need] to understand we play for the badge. We play to make our fans proud of us. You have to have desire. The fire in your eyes. If you 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.’
He continued: ‘The players don’t want to play under pressure. They don’t want to play under stress. Tottenham’s story is this. Twenty years and they never won something. Why? The fault is only the club or every manager that comes here?
‘Until now I try to hide the situation. But there are 10 games to go. People think we can fight? Fight for what? With this attitude, this spirit, this commitment. For seventh? Eighth place? I am really upset.’
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