Antonio Conte left Tottenham Hotspur by mutual consent Sunday after he ridiculed “selfish players” and the club’s identity during a now-infamous post-match tirade.
“They don’t play for something important. They don’t want to play under pressure; they don’t want to play under stress. It is easy in this way,” the Italian said after Spurs drew 3-3 with Southampton on March 18. “Tottenham’s story is this: 20 years there is the owner (Daniel Levy), and they’ve never won something. Why?”
Cristian Stellini, who served as Conte’s assistant, has taken charge of the team until the end of the season. Former Spurs midfielder Ryan Mason will assist him in the role.
Tottenham wanted to talk to Julian Nagelsmann about potentially succeeding Conte, The Guardian’s David Hytner reported Friday, but nothing materialized from their apparent interest. Nagelsmann’s surprising sacking as Bayern Munich head coach was confirmed the same day.
Stellini, 47, will be immediately tasked with securing a top-four finish for Spurs and thereby clinching a place in next season’s Champions League. Tottenham are currently fourth in the Premier League table, albeit with Newcastle United just two points behind and with two games in hand. Sixth-placed Liverpool have also played two fewer matches than Tottenham and are seven points adrift of fourth place.
The north London outfit’s quest for their first piece of silverware since the 2008 League Cup is on hold until next season after AC Milan kicked them out of the Champions League round of 16 earlier in March. Spurs were eliminated from the League Cup by Nottingham Forest and from the FA Cup by second-tier Sheffield United.
“We have 10 Premier League games remaining, and we have a fight on our hands for a Champions League place,” Spurs owner Levy said. “We all need to pull together. Everyone has to step up to ensure the highest possible finish for our club and amazing, loyal supporters.”