Spurs threw away a 3-1 lead with 15 minutes to go against Southampton because of course they did. There is no point in Antonio Conte seeing out this season.
With 16 minutes remaining at St Mary’s, Ivan Perisic’s first Spurs goal had put them 3-1 up and heading into the international break in a slightly misleading yet still undeniably real third place.
Twenty minutes later, Spurs are instead an entirely misleading and only temporarily real fourth in the table with their Champions League hopes in ruins.
Let’s be real, Spurs hadn’t played well to go 3-1 up. They haven’t really done ‘playing well’ all season. That’s not what this top-four challenge has been built on. It’s only slightly reductive to say it’s been built entirely on the surprising rubbishness of Liverpool and Chelsea and the unsurprising greatness of Harry Kane, who has somehow managed to turn the base metal of Tottenham’s prosaic football and non-existent attacking ambition into the gold of 21 Premier League goals.
As an achievement, it utterly dwarfs Erling Haaland’s more overtly impressive numbers at the Etihad.
Because Spurs really are an awful spectacle. Their football now is somehow even more bereft of joy and ambition than it was by the end under Mourinho, the plan less clear than it was under Nuno, and the tactical instruction at a level of non-existence not seen since Tim Sherwood and his gilet. Spurs have had every type of bad or unsuitable manager imaginable over recent years, and it should be (but won’t be) to Antonio Conte’s shame that in its end days his Spurs side has come to resemble none quite so thoroughly as it does Sherwood’s directionless, planless, hope-for-the-best shambles.
Conte will presumably ask how he can be expected to compete with Southampton (or Sheffield United, or Wolves, or Leicester City or…) because he’s been gaslighting this entire club and its fanbase since he got here. He still thinks he’s doing them a favour by being here and serving up this unremitting shod.
It’s no great surprise that they are as bad as they now are: when the only prize still on offer concerns where they will play their football next season, why should a manager who doesn’t care for the club and knows he won’t be here particularly give a sh*t? It’s been clear for weeks that he wants to be sacked and walk away with the payoff. Galling as it will be for Daniel Levy, he has to now give Conte what he wants. His team may look like…
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