Antonio Conte has hit out at Tottenham Hotspur fans and said he will not “kill himself” over their lack of “patience”.
The Tottenham head coach also claimed that he is a victim of his own success with unrealistic expectations that the club will win trophies just because he has been winning consistently.
In a passionate and extraordinary press conference, Conte also:
However, it will be Conte’s criticism of Spurs fans that will cause the most irritation with the Italian suggesting their “patience has run out” after AC Milan is in the last 16 of the Champions League.
The 53-year-old, who is back on the line after recovering from having his gall bladder removed, said: “I don’t want to kill myself. I am really happy to work here and stay here. But at the same time, I have to consider everything, also for myself. If I have to put stress and pressure only on myself, that’s not right.”
Conte added: “Until the end (of the season) I’m ready to die for this club and then we’ll see because I’m not that stupid to keep killing myself.”
He claimed it would take a “miracle” for Spurs to win the trophy as things stand. “The fans want to win the trophy. Stop,” explained Conte. “And then you have to find the right solution to make the fans happy and win the trophy in the future. Because the fans’ patience is over. We feel it too. I feel this. The players feel it. This certainly doesn’t help the situation.
“This is reality. No patience. I am asking for time and patience, but I see that patience is at an end. Maybe the fans are right. But you don’t build victory in one day, in two days. It’s hard for me to understand this situation. It’s difficult because I put everything, both myself and the staff, to help the club, to try to build something. But at the same time, I understand that it may not be enough.”
Conte suggested the “environment” was not good at Spurs, who last won the League Cup in 2008, but went on to clarify it was not the club’s fault. “The club has patience. But the problem is that the club also has to make the fans (patient),” he said. “If you don’t have patience and it’s useless, this. Do you understand?”
Conte, who has suffered personal tragedy with the deaths of three close friends in the past six months, has tried to carefully map out his future as he works to preserve his own reputation rather than provoke an early exit as his contract expires at the end of this campaign.
“You know, we signed a contract with the club, a strange contract – for a year and a half. Usually a contract is signed for three years, but I think it was for the club and for me to see the situation,” said Conte.
“For the club to understand my personality, my coaching capacity and for me on my part it was also the same. To understand if we are on the same page and if we want to do something important. Now after a year and a half, the club knows me, I know the club and this situation is clear. For this reason, I repeat, we have to finish the season, and then we will see. The club knows very well what I think.”
After winning so many trophies with Juventus, Chelsea and Inter, Conte said expectations of what he could achieve at Spurs were unrealistic.
“I well remember everyone saying when I arrived, ‘Now we have Conte – he’s won in the past, so now we’re going to win!'” he asserted.
“I can teach you the way to victory, but you must follow me. And have patience. I need time and patience and I realized that I have it. Maybe I have time because the club can give it to me. But I think there is no patience in the club.
“Maybe my past is punishing me, you understand? If I were a coach who was a good coach but without a win in his career, I think it would be a perfect situation to enjoy working together and growing. But my past is different. My past brings expectations, great expectations.”
Conte: I think we are a bit soft sometimes
The fallout from the move from Milan included £60m signing Richarlison who gave an interview to TNT Sports Brazil in which he complained about his lack of playing time and admitted he had a poor season.
“I watched Richarlison’s interview and he didn’t criticize me. He said my season is ‘s—‘ and he is right because his season is not good,” said Conte.
“If you ask me about the rest of the interview, I think the guy realized very well that he made a mistake because when you say ‘me, me and me’ and not with us, it means you’re only thinking about yourself and you’re selfish,” he said. “The guy (Richarlison) understood very well and apologised.”
Regarding the Spurs squad, Conte added: “I have good guys, but sometimes being a good guy is not enough. Sometimes you have to show real desire; to sacrifice oneself in order to fight to win the game, to win the duels. Being mean and, yeah, I think we’re a bit soft sometimes.”