Micah Richards has defended Tottenham boss Antonio Conte after an extraordinary rant following their 3-3 draw with Southampton.
Conte has returned to Italy as Daniel Levy gives serious consideration to sacking him following a series of explosive interviews in the aftermath of Saturday’s draw, which came after Spurs earlier led 3-1.
The manager laid into his players and questioned their lack of desire and attitude, which he felt had created an ‘unacceptable’ situation at the club.
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While many felt Conte was acting selfishly, Sportsmail columnist Richards sympathised with the Premier League-winning manager.
‘Spurs were crying out for a top manager, but if you get Conte you know what he comes with,’ he told BBC 5 Live.
‘If he gets you a trophy, you can live with that, but unfortunately for Conte, he’s finding it difficult to get over the line [At Tottenham].’
‘At the end of the day you’re a human being, maybe he is at the end of his tether. If it feels like he’s giving everything and not getting that back, that’s where the emotion comes from.’
Richards felt Conte’s failure at the club came from a ‘cultural’ problem at Tottenham, as he explained: ‘Spurs have got used to just doing OK, they got to a Champions League final they’ve got a new stadium, they’ve done well.
‘Conte’s passionate, he’s a winner. I understand his frustration of being a great manager and not being able to deliver in what he wants to do at Spurs. You can get a winning manager in, buy you need the culture to change as well.’
In defending the Italian’s willingness to speak awkward home truths, Richards compared the incident with his playing days at Manchester City.
‘We had Mark Hughes at Man City, we had Sven [Goran Eriksson],’ he said, ‘both very good managers, but they didn’t like to have the awkward conversations.
‘With [Roberto] Mancini, I’d been out eight months with a knee injury, the first interview he gave when I was back he said I was made out of glass. Said I was too soft.
That didn’t affect me, it made me want to show him, some players will take it literally, but sometimes you need them home truths.’
Whether Conte was justified in Saturday’s rant or not, it did seem to be the latest chapter in a miserable season for the north London side.
After limping out of the FA Cup and Champions League already this month, their top four hopes may also now be in jeopardy, with Newcastle just two points behind them with two games in hand.
Tottenham will next be in action against Everton on April 3, by which time they may well be under new management.