Conte riddled with self-doubt after Burnley defeat

Spurs boss sparks speculation that he could be on his way out of the club after Tottenham lose 1-0 at Turf Moor

Thursday, 24th February — By Dan Carrier

Antonie Conte 2 - Credit Tottenham Hotspur FC

Antonio Conte: ‘Maybe I’m not so good’

Premier League

BURNLEY 1 (Mee 71)

THE scene was set.

A wet Wednesday night in February.

A fixture played high on the Lancashire Moors in biting winds and driving rain.

A must-win game in hand against the recently re-invigorated, relegation threatened – but honest, keen and hardworking – team that is Sean Dyche’s Burnley.

Tottenham, on the back of a what seemed a season-defining win away at champions-elect Manchester City, would have seen three points take them level with Arsenal and West Ham.

A defeat – and they languish in eighth, seven points off fourth, albeit with two games in hand.

The Spurs players might as well have smeared the egg on their faces on the team coach while heading towards Turf Moor – in the history of Tottenham Hotspur, it was nailed on what was going to happen next.

And this 1-0 defeat lies at the heart of the problem Antonio Conte faces.

Spurs have been caught in a netherworld for seasons, only looking like breaking out for a two-year spell under Mauricio Pochettino.

They aren’t consistent enough to genuinely challenge for the title. They are great on their day, and can beat most. But meet a well-organised and motivated club without Tottenham’s pretensions, and Spurs as a seriously competitive club proves to be hot air and bunkum.

The rollercoaster that is Tottenham Hotspur took a terrifying, but all-too-predictable, dive on Wednesday.

Burnley, who took the points courtesy of a Ben Mee header from a set-piece, were worthy winners. They simply looked keener to have the ball, and Spurs, perhaps still feeling Saturday’s thrilling win over City in their legs, could not keep up.

Conte’s post match response was cutting. The fanbase react to his every word, and his brutal assessment after four defeats in five games makes the league trip to Leeds this Saturday even more chilling.

“The club has to make an assessment to understand what is the best solution,” said Conte.

“This club has changed coaches, but the players are always the same, and the results have not changed. I cannot accept continuing to lose.”

Conte’s usual bravado was replaced with a message of self-doubt – and was yet another sign to the Tottenham board that they absolutely must over haul the squad in the summer.

The Spurs boss added: “I came in to improve the situation but at this moment I’m not so good to improve this situation. We are working hard. We are trying to get the best out of every single player. I’m too honest.

“I’m not used to this type of situation and I’m trying to change it, but I’m not. We are doing everything to change the situation but it’s not enough. Four defeats out of five is not good enough. This doesn’t happen to me. Maybe I’m not so good.”

After that confidence boosting win at City, hopes were high that a corner had been turned. And after Harry Kane nearly tee’d up Ryan Sessegnon in the opening moments, it looked like Spurs might be on a roll.

But Burnley got to grips with the atrocious weather and the Tottenham midfield of Rodrigo Bentancur and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg found themselves fire fighting across the pitch as Conte’s side struggled to hold on to possession.

Burnley’s giant centre forward Wout Weghorst enjoyed every minute, battling for headers and fighting for every loose ball. Tottenham simply could not handle Burnley’s pressing, and when they did get out of their own half, attacks were disjointed.

After Mee steered a header home from the edge of the six-yard box, Spurs lacked the patience to carve genuine opportunities. The introduction of Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn, in the hope of another last-gasp come back, did little to change the game’s complexion. And only seemed to underline Conte’s point about the inherent weakness of the squad.

Burnley: Pope, Roberts, Tarkowski, Mee, Pieters, Lennon, Cork, Brownhill, McNeill, Weghorst (Barnes, 89), Rodriguez
Substitutes not used: Hennessey, Lowton, Collins, Bardsley, Long, Thomas, Stephens, Richardson

Tottenham: Lloris, Romero, Dier, Davies, Sessegnon (Bergwijn, 80), Royal (Moura, 65), Hojbjerg, Bentancur (Winks, 45), Kulusevski, Son, Kane
Substitutes not used: Austin, Doherty, Reguilon, Sanchez, Rodon, Scarlett

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