Antonio Conte [Source: Reuters]
Antonio Conte’s increasingly fractious relationship with Tottenham Hotspur came to an end with the Premier League club announcing they had parted ways with the Italian.
The writing had been on the wall since last weekend after Conte’s furious reaction to a 3-3 draw with Southampton in the Premier League — after which he lambasted his players.
“We can announce that head coach Antonio Conte has left the club by mutual agreement,” Tottenham said in a statement.
“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.”
Conte’s assistant Cristian Stellini, who stood in for several games while Conte was recovering from surgery, takes over the first team, supported by former Spurs midfielder Ryan Mason, until the end of the season, the club said.
“We have 10 Premier League games remaining and we have a fight on our hands for a Champions League place,” chairman Daniel Levy said in the statement.
“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 leaves with Tottenham in fourth place in the Premier League and still well-placed to challenge for a top-four finish and qualify for the Champions League.
The reality is, however, that there has been a growing sense of drift since Tottenham’s strong finish to last season enabled them to finish in fourth place in the table.
Tottenham, who have not won a trophy since 2008, lost to second-tier Sheffield United in the FA Cup fifth round this month, went out of the Champions League to AC Milan with a whimper before throwing away victory at Southampton.
After that draw, which left Tottenham only two points above Newcastle United having played two games more, Conte accused his players of being selfish, lacking team spirit and even appeared to aim a shot at the club’s hierarchy.