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Why is Antonio Conte frustrated with life at Tottenham?

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(Image credit: John Walton)

Antonio Conte cast serious doubt over his future as Tottenham boss after the 1-0 defeat at Burnley.

Just four days after winning at Manchester City, Spurs lost for the fourth time in five games, leaving Conte questioning whether he is the right man for the job.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at the situation.

What did Conte say?

After seeing Ben Mee’s second-half header decide the match at Turf Moor, Conte refused to talk about the match itself, instead focusing on the broader state of the club. He suggested he was not good enough to fix the problems and that he is not prepared to just “close his eyes” and accept his salary. He also suggested the club need to make an assessment on the job he is doing. “I came here to try to improve the situation in Tottenham but maybe in this moment I am not so good,” he said. “I am not used to this type of situation. The situation is not changing. Someone has to speak about the race for the top, but the reality is in the last five games we are fighting for the relegation zone. I have to take responsibility and I’m open to every decision because I want to help Tottenham. I’m too honest to close my eyes, you understand, and to continue to say, ‘OK I want to finish the season in this way and OK my salary is good’. But I’m not this type of person. I have ambition, I’m a person who has ambition, I hate to lose and we lost, I repeat, four games in the last five games. And for me, I repeat, this is unacceptable.”

What was he trying to achieve?

Antonio Conte has questioned whether he is good enough to fix Tottenham's problems

Antonio Conte has questioned whether he is good enough to fix Tottenham’s problems (John Walton/PA)

There could have been a number of motivations behind his comments. Firstly, it is worth stating that Conte is an emotional man and often likes to take time before interviews to let the adrenalin from the game die down and maybe it was a case of just going in front of the cameras too soon at Burnley. But it is more likely he had a specific goal in mind. Perhaps he was trying to put pressure on the players in order to get a response, having felt let down by them following the poor defeat. Maybe it was a message to chairman Daniel Levy, saying, ‘If you don’t back me I will walk away’. Or he could even have been laying the groundwork for a summer exit, making it publicly known that he is not happy and that he could be available – after all there are some big clubs who are likely to be looking for managers in the summer.

What else has he said?

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In typical Conte style, he has not been shy about just what the predicament at Tottenham is. Soon after an embarrassing Europa Conference League to Slovenian minnows NS Mura he said that the level of the squad was not so high and that this was his biggest challenge. Then after a defeat to Chelsea he said his side were “in the middle” and that there was an “important gap”. Then last week, in an interview with Italian TV, he appeared to question the club’s transfer policy and said his squad had been “weakened” in the transfer market, though later said he was “disturbed” at the coverage of the interview.

What exactly is the problem at Spurs?

Conte is inheriting a mess that has been in place for some time

Conte is inheriting a mess that has been in place for some time (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Spurs’ problems go back way further than Conte and can be traced to two consecutive transfer windows where they failed to add to a squad that was challenging for the top honours in England and Europe. The mess that Mauricio Pochettino predicted has duly arrived and the Argentinian, Jose Mourinho, Nuno Espirito Santo or now Conte have been unable to fix it. A dreadful recruitment policy has seen more than £100million spent on Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso who have now left the club on loan while few other signings have worked out. Performances like the one at Manchester City, where Harry Kane inspired a brilliant team performance, have been the exception rather than the norm, meaning another season away from the Champions League looks likely.

What will happen next?

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It seems unlikely that Conte will walk away. It was only 48 hours ago that the Italian said in a press conference how happy he was working at Spurs. His comments will not have gone unnoticed by the powers that be and it seems sensible to assume that chairman Daniel Levy will sit down with the Italian. Levy has to convince Conte that he is the right man to take Spurs forward as the beleaguered chairman cannot afford to lose one of the best coaches in the world, with fan sentiment already turning. Conte will be expecting a huge reaction from his players when they visit Leeds on Saturday lunchtime.

How does his record stand up?

How Antonio Conte's record compares to Nuno Espirito Santo and Jose Mourinho

How Antonio Conte’s record compares to Nuno Espirito Santo and Jose Mourinho (PA graphic)

Conte started off well at Spurs as he went unbeaten in his first nine Premier League games, a 2-0 loss at Chelsea in January eventually ending that run. Since then it has been bad, losing a further three from the next four games. It means after 14 league games in charge he has won seven, drawn three and lost four. That is a slightly better points-per-game return than his predecessor Nuno, who won five and lost five of his 10 games in charge before being sacked. His record is also not as good as Mourinho’s during the Portuguese’s first 14 games in charge. Mourinho has been derided for his record at Spurs, but Conte is only echoing many of the things he said. Mourinho won eight of his first 14 league games, drawing two and losing four.

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