The need of the hour for Tottenham Hotspur as per their manager, Antonio Conte, is relentless hard work, persistence in the face of the ongoing storm, and some reinforcements in this winter transfer window.
His words sound reasonable given Spurs’ dwindling form in the Premier League. Three wins in nine league games have left the team in the fifth spot in the table and five points adrift from a UEFA Champions League spot.
Conte direly needs help, but according to him, his pleas to the Spurs’ board to be more rampant and transparent with their transfer business have found no supporters.
After succumbing to a 2-0 loss against unarguably their biggest rivals Arsenal, Spurs fans are frustrated at their club, and joining them in their frustration is Conte, who has voiced his concern for being the lone scapegoat for the team’s poor performances. In doing so, Conte has exposed an unaddressed problem that has been in the shadows for a long time.
Coaches Shouldn’t Be the Only Ones Explaining
In a recent interview, Conte was asked whether the sporting directors of the clubs should speak to the media and the Italian manager didn’t hold back.
“In England, I think there is a bad habit that there is only the coach to speak. I have never seen the medical department come here and explain that this player is having difficulty recovering. I never see the club or sporting director come here and explain the strategy and the vision of the club.”
He then remembered his days as a manager in Italy and said, “In Italy, every game, before the game, there is a person from the club who goes with the media and then has to answer many questions. For us, it could be better because otherwise, we put every time our face [points to his face]. There is only one face to show.”
Conte is implying that there are many questions directed at managers that would be better directed at the people who’re better positioned to answer them.
His response didn’t seem like someone shying from his responsibilities but giving a fair chance to the entire management to explain the ruckus that had plagued the team lately.
This phenomenon of assistant coaches or club owners addressing the media is not new by any means. During the 80s and 90s, the former owner of AC Milan, Silvio Berlusconi, would give interviews after the game while Gianni Agnelli, the former chairman of Juventus, would entertain the journalists with his offbeat and humorous comments.
Similarly, in leagues across Europe, one can often see PSG’s President, Nasser Al-Khelaifi talking to the media, while in Spain, Florentino Perez doesn’t shy away from addressing the cameras head-on. Even Pavel Nedved, now the former Vice President of Juventus, takes his chances to confront the media from time to time.
This is exactly what Conte was pointing at. A more transparent approach from the bosses high up the ladder but instead of being rewarded for exposing a glitch in the Premier League, many crucified Conte for his brazen attitude.
For them, the big wad of cash that managers receive in England is for accountability for the entire squad and its operations. This system of holding only the manager accountable is ingrained in the English system that leaves the higher management free of all charges.
Conte is brave enough to reveal this ruthless autocracy in English football and should be supported by the people around him.
Unfortunately, Spurs now play Manchester City next in the Premier League. Conte regards Man City as the best team in the world at the moment. If the results go south for the Italian manager, will he take full accountability or will his medical team or sporting director or operations manager join in to abolish the system of making only the manager accountable?
This trend of managers facing the media’s wrath has been a norm in England. Only Conte has recently realized it when the waves are too high to surf on.