5 matches that contributed to Antonio Conte’s Tottenham exit after 16 months

Antonio Conte has left the role of Tottenham head coach by “mutual agreement”.

Here, the PA news agency looks at a selection of matches that contributed towards the Italian’s departure after just 16 months.

Mura 2 Tottenham 1 (November 25, 2021)

Three weeks into his reign, Conte truly grasped the size of the task at hand when Spurs collapsed to lose in stoppage time away to the Slovenian minnows. Mura, who were the lowest-ranked team in the Europa Conference League, had lost all four of their matches in the tournament but stunned 10-man Tottenham despite a Harry Kane goal. Conte afterwards admitted: “At this moment the level at Tottenham is not so high.” He went on to insist he was not a “magician” and perhaps as early as this the writing was on the wall that this marriage of convenience would not last long.

Burnley 1 Tottenham 0 (February 23, 2022)

Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte threatened to quit after Tottenham’s defeat at Burnley (Ian Hodgson/PA)

Conte threatened to quit after he watched Tottenham’s inconsistent form continue during the first few months of his tenure with a painful loss at Turf Moor. In an extraordinary post-match press conference, the former Chelsea boss insisted his team needed to “pay attention to the relegation zone”. He conceded the challenge at the north London club may be even too great for him, but months later he hinted this performance in front of the media was planned to get a reaction from the squad. While it worked as Spurs pipped Arsenal to fourth place come May, it would prove a false dawn.

Sheffield United 1 Tottenham 0 (March 1, 2023)

A year on from losing in the FA Cup fifth round to a Sky Bet Championship play-off hopeful in Middlesbrough, history repeated itself for Tottenham with a late capitulation at Sheffield United. Conte was absent while recovering from gallbladder surgery but was a key figure in the decision to rest Harry Kane and make five other changes from the weekend win over Chelsea. The end result was a disjointed display where the Premier League outfit were toothless in attack and cut open with 11 minutes left when Iliman Ndiaye embarked on a mazy dribble before firing home the winner. To add insult to injury, Sheffield United had made more changes than their opponents and this embarrassing exit virtually guaranteed another trophyless season.

Tottenham 0 AC Milan 0 (March 8, 2023)

Yet another tame display in a season-defining fixture edged Conte a step closer to the exit door. Trailing 1-0 from the first leg and with the Champions League the only cup competition Tottenham were left in, a memorable European night in N17 was required. Instead, Spurs produced an insipid first-half performance that suggested they did not even realise they needed a goal. A similar pattern remained after the break and, while Cristian Romero was sent off late on for the hosts, Conte’s decision to withdraw attacker Dejan Kulusevski for centre-back Davinson Sanchez left the majority of 61,602 in attendance dumbfounded. Kane did have a last-gasp header saved in what was essentially the home team’s only chance of note across 180 minutes of the two-legged last-16 tie, but another year without silverware was rubberstamped.

Southampton 3 Tottenham 3 (March 18, 2023)

Antonio Conte
Conte’s last match in charge of Tottenham was a 3-3 draw at Southampton (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Holding a 3-1 lead and set to move into third place, Spurs pressed the self-destruct button at St Mary’s and their head coach did the same after full-time. James Ward-Prowse’s stoppage-time penalty salvaged Saints a point and saw Conte let rip into his squad across several interviews. During an explosive post-match press conference that lasted 10 minutes, the Italian described his players as “selfish” and hit out at “the story of Tottenham” when he reflected on one cup win over a 20-year period. While Conte later clarified with the board his comments were aimed at the underperforming squad, he had attacked all parties at Spurs and this act of self-preservation proved the final straw with the axe falling days later.