Under-fire Antonio Conte hits out at ‘impatient’ Tottenham fans after team booed off in Champions League exit
ANTONIO CONTE has launched a stinging attack on impatient Spurs fans and his “selfish” £50million flop Richarlison.
Tottenham fans booed during and after Wednesday’s limp Champions League exit to AC Milan, which ended a week from hell as they also crashed out of the FA Cup.
AlamyAntonio Conte launched a stinging attack on Richarlison[/caption]
And the Italian, set to leave when his contract expires in the summer, slammed the supporters, saying: “The patience of the fans has finished. And we feel this. I feel this. The players feel this.
“This does not help the situation because there are many players in this moment, also young players that are playing, and they need to improve and go step by step to grow.
“The club has patience. But the problem is the club also has to make the fans (be patient) because the fans for many, many years are waiting to win something.”
Richarlison’s outburst means he is unlikely to start at home to Nottingham Forest today, where the atmosphere could become very uncomfortable for the manager if his side make a poor start.
The exit to Milan left the club facing a 15th successive season without a trophy, with chairman Daniel Levy set to wield the axe on Conte’s reign.
Former Everton striker Richarlison appeared to blast Conte for not explaining why he had been benched for the last two games.
But Conte said: “The guy understood very well that he made a mistake because when you speak with ‘I, I and I’, not with ‘we’, it means you are thinking only about yourself and you are selfish.
“If he deserves to play, I give him an opportunity otherwise we will play another player.
BETTING SPECIAL – BEST FOOTBALL BETTING SITES IN THE UK
“I watched the whole interview and he didn’t criticise me. He said his season is ‘s***’ and he is right because his season is no good.
“Because he had a lot of injuries. He started well with us, he then had injury in the Champions League and then he went to World Cup and he had another serious injury.
“He came back and stayed one month out. Then another injury.
“He scored zero goals with us, only two goals in Champions League and I think the guy was really honest to tell that his season is not good.
“His season and our season has still not finished and he has time to recover. ”
Richarlison has rarely started, with the Italian boss preferring Harry Kane, Son Heung-min and Dejan Kulusevski up front.
Conte’s other option is to start January loan signing Arnaut Danjuma, who has had just 47 minutes of action since arriving.
ReutersArnaut Danjuma has hardly featured under Antonio Conte[/caption]
But worryingly, Conte admitted it was the club’s choice to sign the Dutchman — and questioned if he could fit into his favoured line-up.
He said: “I am sorry for (Danjuma) because he arrived in January and the club wanted to sign on loan this player.
“Maybe he has not specific characteristics to be a No 10. Maybe he is more a second striker or a winger.”
Conte also claimed that he was doomed to fail in his spell at Tottenham as his trophy-laden career meant fan expectations were miles too high from day one.
But he insisted that he is “ready to die for this club” until his contract expires at the end of the season.
He said: “The problem for me is only one — that every club where I coached, I won. Expectation has always been very, very high.
“I remember very well when I arrived at this club everybody said, ‘Now, we have Conte — he won in the past, so now we are going to win!’
“But we have to win together. We have to create the right situation.
“I can teach you the path to win, but you have to follow me. And have patience. I need time and patience.
“Maybe I do have time, because the club can give me that. But I am seeing there is no patience (from the fans). For me it’s really, really difficult. Maybe my past penalises me.”
This was the man with the midas touch, who had tasted success everywhere he went, securing league titles at Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan. Surely he would be the one to finally deliver the silverware that Tottenham supporters have been craving.
PARicharlison looks set to be left out again against Nottingham Forest[/caption]
But 15 months into his tenure and after a week from hell, Conte feels any grace from the terraces has evaporated.
Emergency gallbladder surgery saw assistant Cristian Stellini stand in for four games before he returned for a second time for Wednesday’s Champions League nightmare against AC Milan.
It is a matter of when, not if, Conte leaves, but the fiery boss is adamant he will give his all until the end of the campaign.
The Premier League winner said: “Until the end of the season I am ready to die for this club and then we will see because I am not so stupid to continue to kill myself.
“You know with the club we signed a contract, a strange contract – one-year-and-a-half.
“Usually you sign a contract for three years but I think it was for the club and also for myself to see the situation.
“For the club to understand my personality, my capacity as a coach and for me from my side it was also the same. To understand if we were on the same page and if we wanted to do something important.
“Now after one year and a half, the club knows me, I know the club and it is clear this situation.”
Spurs are currently in fourth and now, after their cup exits, have free weeks leading up to ten of their remaining 12 league games.
That extra time to prepare certainly helped them finish strongly last season and they have a favourable run coming up too, starting with Forest.
Still, Conte claimed finishing in the top four will be harder than it was last season, adding: “For us, it is like winning the Premier League in this moment.”