Premier League

Conte gives one last f*** you to finally answer the question of who would prevail: him or Spursiness

Antonio Conte puts on his coat during Tottenham

Antonio Conte may have just delivered the most wildly entertaining press conference in Premier League history.

It was one that provided a final decisive answer to the question we posed when he was appointed Spurs manager: Would Conte be able to cure Spursiness or would Spursiness devour him? It was nip and tuck for a while there but, fittingly given the way his reign has now surely ended, Conte has been beaten by a last-minute winner. Spursiness remains undefeated.

While the emotion and rage in Conte’s response to a pitiful 3-3 draw at Southampton for which he, were he honest with himself, carries huge amounts of blame were undeniably real there is also a very obvious and very cynical side to his performance – a word too strong for his team against Saints but entirely befitting his post-match posturing. It’s been clear for several weeks now that Conte doesn’t want to be at Spurs but also doesn’t want to quit and lose a nice fat payout. Three months is a long time when you’re on £15m a year. It’s been equally clear that Daniel Levy doesn’t really want to pay Conte off and would rather end things in the summer when Conte’s contract runs out.

Conte has taken that option away from Levy by going fully nuclear. Fully Mourinho. It’s utterly unthinkable now that Levy could allow Conte to remain in place for the last two months of the season and however much it will gall him to give Conte precisely what he wants, he has to sack him. Conte has made his position untenable in two ways: inadvertently with his wretched and now utterly exposed prehistoric football; and very deliberately by going down swinging at his players, the club and most significantly Levy himself. The weakness Levy would now show by letting that stand is unthinkable. Indeed, the only reason to imagine that Spurs won’t get rid of the manager now at the start of the international break is that hanging on grimly through two weeks of negativity and unpleasantness before failing to muster a shot on target in a 1-0 defeat at Sean Dyche’s Everton and THEN sacking him is probably even more on-brand.

Because yes, Spurs are very Spursy. A great deal of what Conte said about the club on Saturday was true.

“They’re used to it here. Don’t play for something important. They don’t want to play under pressure. They don’t want to play under stress. Tottenham’s story is this. Twenty years there is the owner & they never won something. Why?”

The 2008 Carling Cup erasure…

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