Tottenham chiefs are said to be seething about the nature of the team’s dismal FA Cup exit to Sheffield United this week.
Spurs’ 15-year trophy drought looks set to continue after their 1-0 loss to the Blades in the fifth round of the competition – which was their last realistic chance of winning silverware. The team are still in the Champions League, but lost their first leg of their last-16 clash to AC Milan and lifting that trophy seems increasingly unlikely.
The club’s board are reportedly furious that the team and staff did not make more of an effort to win a cup, according to the Sun – with the likes of Harry Kane benched for the game while out-of-favour Lucas Moura started in attack.
The way the team approached the game is claimed to be the biggest sticking point with chiefs, the report says, with the Premier League side rarely threatening the Championship outfit before Iliman Ndiaye’s winner in the 79th minute.
Sportsmail reported this week how Antonio Conte would again be missing for the team’s trip to Wolves on Saturday as he recovers from gallbladder surgery – with the delay yet another sign that the Italian looks likely to leave this summer.
There have been no talks about a new deal since the World Cup and although the club can trigger a one-year extension, it looks increasingly unlikely.
Conte’s illness, the fact his wife and daughter still live in Turin, and the likelihood that several big Italian clubs will be searching for new managers at the end of the season, all point towards a summer move back home.
There has been growing discontent from fans too after an up and down season that has seen Spurs battling to claim a place in the top four with any hopes of competing for the title swiftly doused. They are now 15 points behind league leaders Arsenal.
Spurs went out in the third round of the Carabao Cup to Nottingham Forest and their FA Cup exit to Sheffield United was another sign that Spurs have not been instilled with the steely mentality that was promised under Conte.
It was deja vu after also going out of last year’s competition to another Championship outfit in Middlesbrough.
Speaking ahead of the Wolves game, Spurs No 2 Cristian Stellini claimed the team lack ‘hunger’ to regularly challenge for silverware.
‘It came from a long time ago, not just this season,’ said Stellini.
‘Every season, sometimes it’s better and sometimes lower, but every season it is similar so it’s a problem that Tottenham is out in the fifth round of the FA Cup. We have to change this. We want to change this.
‘When we speak to each other. We speak about this and if we want, in the future, we can have this.’
‘Sometimes I feel we speak too much about trophies and less about the mentality,’ said Stellini. ‘This is the difficult thing. You have to find this hunger inside of you, inside the dressing room, inside the players, inside the staff, inside the club.
‘Everyone participates to create this kind of atmosphere, to feel how important it is to win games, to win every game.
‘The mentality we showed in the last game is the reality. The approach was not good, not the mentality we need.
‘What happened is in the past. Done, finished. I’m not here to analyse what happened in the last 10 years. I’m here to analyse what happens from now into the future. We need to change this.’
Conte is expected back at Spurs’ training ground on Sunday after flying back from Italy – where he has been resting following his surgery – with a view to taking charge of the team’s second leg against Milan.
‘He feels better,’ said Stellini. ‘He feels like he’s in charge. He feels ready to come back. He cannot wait to come back. His frustration is huge.
‘The medical department decided the time schedule and they asked Antonio to come back on Sunday.
‘He wants to respect the decision because when you have a health problem we are not doctors.’