With every passing interview that Antonio Conte conducts, he seems to set another bridge on fire with regards to his relationship with Tottenham Hotspur. Conte’s latest remarks after a defeat to Wolves centered around the fact that he was typically used to challenging for more prestigious targets than the top four. It was undoubtedly a kick in the teeth for Spurs supporters to hear their manager say that whilst the club have a genuine chance of finishing in the coveted Champions League spots.
Strictly speaking, Conte may well be right - even if his last full season in the Premier League ended in a fifth-place finish with Chelsea - but his words will suck the oxygen out of the club at a time when they desperately need to pull together to achieve the season’s goal of qualifying for the Champions League.
It felt in some ways as if Conte was joining the rest of the footballing world in contributing towards the running gag about Spurs underachieving. The Italian wasn’t of course, but his comments weren’t designed either to earn him favor among the Spurs faithful and you get the distinct impression that he wouldn’t be too down if his time at the club somehow came to a premature end.
At least, the 52-year-old isn’t speaking like a man desperate to safeguard his job at all costs and is exhibiting a carefree attitude of what will be will be. Historically, it’s not an approach that people are used to given how sought-after Premier League management jobs are. In many respects, it represents the pinnacle of managerial positions in the world of football and typically, sitting managers don’t play fast and loose with their jobs by antagonizing the board or supporters. So, why is Conte doing it?
There is a strong suspicion in football circles that the Italian wants the Manchester United job which will become available in the summer after tabloids reported in mid-January that Conte would seriously consider walking away from Spurs if it was offered to him.
At one stage there was talk of Ralf Rangnick staying on if his time as interim boss of the Red Devils was a success but it’s become apparent that the 63-year-old won’t be offered the full-time position after an underwhelming time in charge.
With this in mind, the feeling is that Conte has been monitoring events at Old Trafford, and with it all but certain that the club will begin the hunt for a new manager, the Italian now wants to be considered for the position. This would explain the Italian’s indifference to what tomorrow may bring at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. It should be said and as initially alluded to, there is still time for Conte to enjoy success at Spurs and that his current approach seems ill-advised given that the race for the top four is on. On top of that, the club are still in with a chance of winning the FA Cup as the latest football betting clearly shows with Conte’s men at just 7/1 to win that elusive trophy.
As things stand, you do just wonder if Antonio Conte is going about things the right way when you consider that it is still very much all to play for in north London.
That isn’t even taking into account how unprofessional it is for a manager to be seemingly severing ties with a club whilst in the hot seat. When all is said and done, this plan of action may work out for the Italian if he secures his dream move to Old Trafford, but then again it may all come crashing down on him as both clubs decide to look for a fresh start elsewhere.