Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte has criticized his own players in an extraordinary tirade after they missed a chance to move up to third place with a 3-3 Premier League draw at Southampton.
Spurs looked set to claim a vital victory in their quest for Champions League qualification when Ivan Perisic struck on goal in the 74th minute after earlier efforts from Pedro Porro and Harry Kane.
Instead, bottom-table Southampton mounted a fine comeback with Che Adams and Theo Walcott reducing the deficit before James Ward-Prowse fired a stoppage-time penalty to extend the winless run of Tottenham on the road to five games.
Recent defeats to AC Milan and Sheffield United saw Spurs exit the Champions League and FA Cup for a 15th successive trophy-less season and their manager took aim at all sides in an astonishing 10-minute interview after his collapse at St Mary’s.
“If we are going to discuss the penalty, it means we don’t want to see the other situations,” Conte said.
“I think it is much better to get into the problem because the problem is that, once again, we show that we are not a team.
“We are 11 players who enter the field. I see selfish players, I see players who don’t want to help themselves and don’t put their hearts into it.
“Why? Because they are used to here, they are used to it. They don’t play for something important, yes. They don’t want to play under pressure, they don’t want to play under stress.
“It’s easy this way. The story of Tottenham is this. Twenty years there is the owner and they never won anything but why? It’s only the club’s fault, or each coach who stays here. I have seen the coaches that Tottenham had on the bench.
“You risk upsetting the figure of the coach and protecting the other situation at all times.
“Until now I try to hide the situation but now not because I repeat, I do not want to see what I have seen today because this is unacceptable and also unacceptable for the fans.
“They follow us, they pay their ticket and see the team at another time, having this type of performance is unacceptable. We have to think a lot about this.”
Last weekend’s win over Nottingham Forest had dispelled some of the pessimism around Spurs, but uncertainty over the managerial job remained with Conte’s contract due to expire in the summer and no talk of a new deal in progress.
Asked if the lack of clarity about his future had affected the team, the 53-year-old rejected yet another “alibi” for his underperforming players during an impassioned monologue.
And he added: “The club is responsible for the transfer market. Does each coach who stayed here have the responsibility and the players? Players? Where are the players?
“In my experience, I can tell you that if you want to be competitive, if you want to fight, you have to improve this aspect and this aspect, I can tell you that right now it is very, very low.
“And I see only 11 players playing for themselves.
“There are 10 games to go and some people think we can fight. Fight for what with this spirit, this attitude, this commitment? That? For seventh, eighth, tenth place? I’m not used to this position.
“I am really upset and everyone has to take responsibility. Not only the club, the manager and the staff, the players must be involved in this situation because it is time to change this situation if Tottenham wants to change.
“If they want to continue like this, they can change coaches, many coaches, but the situation cannot change. Believe me.”
As Conte threatened to talk himself out of a job, Saints rookie boss Ruben Selles reflected on a well-deserved point for his team.
Southampton remain bottom of the table but are just two points behind safety and Adams’ second-half strike made him the first striker to score for the club in the league in 2023.
Selles: “We didn’t deserve to be 3-1 down. I think we put in a good performance on the pitch and it was just too much.
“The game can go in another direction but you can see the unity of the captain with the rest of the team.
“Together with the crowd, we made an impact. We thought we could score. We did the second and then we got the third. It was an absolute pleasure to be there.”