Tottenham have finally parted company with Antonio Conte and most of his backroom staff, with Cristian Stellini placed in charge on an interim basis until the end of the season.
The Italian coach guided Spurs to a top-four finish last season and they currently occupy fourth place in the Premier League table this season – albeit having played two games more than many of their rivals.
They could have gone into the international break in third place but threw away a two-goal lead against bottom-of-the-table Southampton, which prompted a furious tirade from Conte afterwards.
The former Chelsea and Inter manager slammed his players, accusing them of being ‘selfish’ and lacking fight, will he also appeared to take aim at the culture of the club having failed to win a trophy in the last 15 years.
Although Conte had referenced ‘the chairman’ in his rant, he is believed to have clarified to Daniel Levy and the board that his comments were exclusively aimed at the players – though it has not spared him from receiving the axe.
A statement from the club confirmed: ‘We can announce that Head Coach Antonio Conte has left the Club by mutual agreement. We achieved Champions League qualification in Antonio’s first season at the Club. We thank Antonio for his contribution and wish him well for the future.
‘Cristian Stellini will take the team as Acting Head Coach for the remainder of the season, along with Ryan Mason as Assistant Head Coach.’
Chairman Daniel Levy added: ‘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.’
A number of Tottenham’s squad are believed to have been angered by Conte’s comments after the defeat, while there have been growing reservations over the team’s style of play both within the dressing room and in the stands.
Conte’s reactive, counter-attacking tactics are at odds with the free-flowing football Spurs are known for – and fans demand – while meek Cup exits at the hands of Sheffield United and AC Milan soured things even further.
Mason, meanwhile, previously took charge of Spurs back in April 2021 after Jose Mourinho was dismissed on the eve of the Carabao Cup final; although he lost at Wembley against Manchester City, Mason did preside over four wins from his six Premier League matches in the dugout.
The 31-year-old, who was forced to retire from football five years ago after a serious head injury, came through the academy with the likes of Harry Kane and is popular with the squad.
This time around he will have 10 matches to navigate with Spurs still right in the tussle for a top-four finish, and his first match in charge will be away at Goodison Park against Everton on Monday April 3 followed by a home match against Brighton a week later.
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