KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Finally, Tottenham and Antonio Conte have gone their separate ways just over a week after the Italian’s furious tirade signalled an irredeemable rift between management, coach and players.
A statement from chairman Daniel Levy said: “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.”
Conte’s assistant Cristian Stellini will take over as caretaker for the rest of the season and the pursuit of a Champions League slot, with former midfielder Ryan Mason his deputy.
Conte’s angry outburst after a 3-3 draw at bottom club Southampton is understood to have been followed by talks with Levy over compensation for him for the remainder of his £15m-a-year contract which had four months to run.
On a personal level, Conte has had a difficult season with the deaths of three close friends, including fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone, and then major stomach surgery from which he has barely recovered.
The 53-year-old has always been known for a volatile temper and short fuse ever since leading Chelsea to success in Premier League then FA Cup in 2016-18. He makes high demands of his players, in term of fitness and commitment, but this shock tactic works only on a short-term basis.
Conte was hired by Spurs, as with Jose Mourinho in 2019, in the hope of a short cut to a first trophy since the League Cup in 2008. Building a squad capable of competing with the likes of the Manchester clubs, Liverpool and Chelsea needs both time and heavy transfer spending.
Julian Nagelsmann, sacked last week by Champions League quarter-finaiists Bayern Munich, is likely to be one long-term target as well as Luis Enrique, the former Spain boss, and former manager Mauricio Pochettino who still lives in north London.
Conte, who had won league titles with former clubs Chelsea, Juventus and Inter Milan, was appointed in November 2021 after Spurs sacked Nuno Espirito Santo. He lifted them from midtable to fourth spot but this season their form has been erratic and they suffered disappointing exits this past month to AC Milan in the Champions League and to second-tier Sheffield United in the FA Cup.