As in almost every game break in the Premier League or sometimes even on individual training days, Antonio Conte, the coach of Tottenham Hotspur, flew home to his family in Turin this time too. The tabloid reported the short trip from the previous week Daily Mail with a video that showed the Italian on the low-cost airline Ryanair. At the beginning of his Tottenham commitment in November 2021, Conte and his wife decided to move to a city hotel in London alone so as not to disrupt their daughter’s schooling.
The family situation did not keep the self-confessed workaholic, who demands as much from players and club bosses as he does himself, from work. But it illustrated that Conte, 53, who had spent his entire playing and coaching career in Italy apart from two seasons with Tottenham city rivals Chelsea (2016-2018), never really felt at home with Spurs. And now he doesn’t have to travel back to England at all, preparing for the league game in Everton is no longer an issue for Conte – because the club released him from his contract, which ran until the end of the season, late on Sunday evening.
In a brief statement, it was said that Conte was saying goodbye to Spurs after 17 months “by mutual consent”. Normally, such a separation is rarely an agreement, but in this case it can be assumed that Conte had more or less provoked his dismissal by, after the most recent league game, an embarrassing 3-3 at bottom Southampton (after a 3-1 lead), in a spectacular tirade with the players (“selfish”) and the club (“never won anything”).
He had previously explained that Tottenham would be “perfect” for him if he had “not won a trophy” in his career. Only he has a completely “different” past than the Spurs. While Conte has already won five championships with Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan, the Londoners have won a single trophy, the League Cup 2008, in 22 years in which Joe Lewis and Daniel Levy have held the club shares through their investment company Enic To lose the renewed qualification for the Champions League in all cup competitions.
Spicy: Conte’s previous assistant Cristian Stellini will be interim coach until the end of the season
As expected, club boss Levy, 61, shot back in a similarly ruthless manner as Conte. He didn’t say a word about the ex-coach when he said goodbye and ironically made Cristian Stellini, Conte’s long-time assistant, interim coach for the last ten games of the season. Stellini has represented his boss several times this season, often successfully. When Conte was out for weeks recently due to gallbladder surgery, the team achieved their best performances of the season – wins against Manchester City, Chelsea and West Ham. Conte should actually bring the winning mentality to the club with his self-confidently communicated success story. But instead of trophies, there was only “a lot of trouble,” the newspaper summed up Guardian.
Conte’s tenure of barely a year and a half was reminiscent of his predecessor, José Mourinho, who was just as controversial and short-term thinking. The Portuguese also got off to a respectable start, until the development suddenly stagnated and the title expectations were not fulfilled. Both Conte and Mourinho blamed the club management, which they felt was too sluggish on the transfer market. De facto, however, Spurs have invested more than half a billion euros in transfer fees since 2019, more than 200 million under Conte alone, for example for striker Richarlison, who has not yet scored a league goal. So the problem wasn’t so much a lack of investment as the quality of the transfers. Tottenham always seem to want to buy short-term success, overpriced players who rarely embody top level are acquired with little thought.
At its core, the squad still consists of players with whom coach Mauricio Pochettino almost won the championship and Champions League years ago. Without the regular goals of the world-class nine Harry Kane, the club would have fallen into the middle of the table. Kane, 29, is the club’s all-time leading goalscorer – and, as of this week, England’s too, as he scored 54 and 55 international goals in the club’s Euro qualifiers against Italy and Ukraine. Kane’s contract with Tottenham ends in the summer of 2024. The near future of the club depends just as much on his plans as on the next coaching appointment.
The candidate for Conte’s successor is ex-coach Pochettino, who was frustrated when he was fired at the end of 2019 that Spurs’ ambitions no longer met his personal expectations. Pochettino would be more of a desperate-looking return campaign. Julian Nagelsmann, who has just been released from Bayern Munich, could be a better fit for Tottenham, albeit not immediately. After a recovery phase he is considering, the Londoners could be a worthwhile intermediate step for the 35-year-old to prove himself abroad for the first time after seven years in the Bundesliga and thus recommend himself again for a world club. Unlike the series winners from Munich, Nagelsmann would be under less immediate pressure in Tottenham from next summer, as with his previous stations Hoffenheim and Leipzig, the priority would be to develop a team into a title candidate.
Antonio Conte was neither enthusiastic about such development work, nor did he want to take the necessary time for it.