It would be a bold move that could potentially result in some senior players leaving the club at the end of the season. But the choice facing Levy now is clear: either continue to back players who have repeatedly failed under successive managers or take a gamble by allowing Conte to overhaul the squad and bring in players who share his demanding, winning mentality.
By doing so, players who believe they are on their way out of the club in the summer could realize that Conte has the backing of the club to make tough decisions. It would be shock therapy, but it’s precisely what Tottenham needs to turn the corner.
Conte’s 10-minute rant about the players’ mentality only served to increase any hostility towards him, but it was a risk he was prepared to take.
“We are not a team,” he said. “We are 11 players that go on to the pitch. I see selfish players, players who don’t want to put their heart into it. Tottenham’s story is this. Twenty years there is the owner and they never won something.”
Levy has a choice to make. He can either take the easy option and hire a new coach when Conte’s contract expires in the summer, or he can accept the manager’s uncomfortable truths and give him the license to make tough decisions. Conte’s abrasive nature and public criticism of his players may not sit well with everyone, but he has a track record of winning league titles at Juventus, Inter Milan, and Chelsea. He knows what it takes to succeed at the highest level.
Eight of Spurs’ senior players were either signed by former manager Mauricio Pochettino or given their chance in the team by the manager who left in November 2019, six months after taking Spurs to the Champions League final. Hugo Lloris, Eric Dier, Harry Kane, Son Heung-Min, Ben Davies, Lucas Moura, Davinson Sanchez, and Ryan Sessegnon have nothing to show for their time at the club. Some of them have been around for too long, while others like Kane and Son should have left for a more ambitious club.
Spurs have a comfort zone that offers little pressure or stress to players. They have a great stadium and are part of the so-called “Big Six.” But their lack of trophies this century suggests they are more of a “Big Five” alongside Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United. Spurs have all the credentials to become a big club, but their mentality is holding them back.
Conte’s impatience and frustration with Tottenham’s recurring failings is understandable. However, it would take a change of culture for Spurs to back him ahead of the players. It’s not something that Tottenham is renowned for doing, but if they’re serious about winning trophies, then it’s something they need to consider. Otherwise, they will continue to repeat the same mistakes.