LONDON: Tottenham Hotspur have parted ways with manager Antonio Conte, the Premier League club said on Sunday (Mar 26), eight days after the Italian’s furious outburst following a draw at Southampton in the Premier League when his side threw away a two-goal lead.
The result meant Spurs stayed fourth in the table but they are only two points above Newcastle United who have two games in hand of the London club.
After the 3-3 draw Conte, whose contract was due to expire in June, delivered a scathing verbal attack on his players, accusing them of being selfish.
While still in contention for a top-four finish, Tottenham bowed out of the Champions League last 16 to AC Milan this month and went out of the FA Cup to second-tier Sheffield United.
Conte was appointed in November 2021 following the sacking of Nuno Espirito-Santo.
“We can announce that head coach Antonio Conte has left the club by mutual agreement. We achieved Champions League qualification in Antonio’s first season at the Club. We thank Antonio for his contribution and wish him well for the future,” Chairman Daniel Levy said in a statement.
“Cristian Stellini will take the team as acting head coach for the remainder of the season, along with Ryan Mason as assistant head coach.
“We have 10 Premier League games remaining and we have a fight on our hands for a Champions League place. We all need to pull together. Everyone has to step up to ensure the highest possible finish for our Club and amazing, loyal supporters.”
The Champions League exit ended Tottenham’s hopes of silverware for another season and extended to 15 years their wait for a trophy, with the club’s last silverware coming in 2008 when they lifted the League Cup by beating Chelsea.
Former Juventus and Chelsea manager Conte worked wonders with Spurs last season after coming in to replace former Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Espirito Santo, getting them into the Champions League by pipping Arsenal to fourth spot.
But they have regressed this season and the style of football has tested the patience of the fans.
Things have come to a head this month with the defeat at Sheffield United and their dismal second-leg display at home to Milan when Tottenham barely created a chance in a dire 0-0 draw as they sought to overturn a 1-0 deficit.
After the Champions League knockout, Conte, who had returned to the technical area after missing several games following gallbladder surgery, indicated that the club could bid him farewell before his contract ran out.
A win over Nottingham Forest seemed to offer some optimism but the way Spurs allowed bottom club Southampton to snatch a draw before the international break opened old wounds and prompted an extraordinary outburst by Conte.
He questioned his players’ motivation and spirit and also appeared to aim a dig at the club’s hierarchy.
“Tottenham’s story is this – 20 years there is this owner (Levy) and they never won anything. Why?” Conte said. “The fault is only for the club, or for every manager that stays here. I have seen the managers that Tottenham had on the bench.
“It is time to change this situation if Tottenham want to change. If they want to continue this way, they can change the manager, a lot of managers, but the situation cannot change. Believe me.”
Conte’s remarks proved the final straw in a strained relationship between the under-achieving club and another A-list manager.
They also sacked Jose Mourinho two years ago after he was brought in to replace the hugely popular Mauricio Pochettino, who himself was fired in 2019 just months after leading the club to the Champions League final.
Tottenham visit Everton on Apr 5.