Tottenham Hotspur boss Antonio Conte has had clear talks with richarlison after the striker targeted his manager following Wednesday’s disappointing Champions League round of 16 elimination against AC Milan.
Conte agreed with Richarlison’s comments about his disappointing debut season at Spurs, although he said the Brazil international was “selfish” in concentrating on his own situation rather than the team.
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“First of all, I saw Richarlison’s interview. He didn’t criticize me. He said his season was crap and he’s right. His season hasn’t been good,” Conte told a news conference on Friday.
“He had injuries, he played and scored in the Champions League and then he went to the World Cup and then he had a serious injury. He hasn’t scored any goals (in the Premier League) for us. I think he was very honest in saying that his season It wasn’t good.” . His season is not over yet. If he deserves to play, I’ll give him the chance.”
And he added: “When you talk about ‘me’ and not ‘us’ you are being selfish. I tell my players that if we want to build something important and win a trophy we have to talk to ‘us’ not with ‘me’, because otherwise you are thinking of yourself.
“He made a mistake and he apologized and it was good for me to clarify again the importance of team spirit. In that aspect we have to improve. We have to be more of a team and show more of a positive spirit, especially in negative moments. “
Richarlison, 25, came off the bench with little effect in a 0-0 draw with Milan and in an interview with Brazilian television channel TNT said he should have started the game and was surprised at the short shot time Conte I was giving him
Speculation is mounting about Conte’s future at Spurs, whose contract expires in June, and he said on Wednesday the club could finish his tenure before the end of the season.
However, speaking to reporters ahead of Saturday’s home Premier League game against Nottingham Forest, the Italian manager said he is “ready to die” for the club to try and salvage a top-four finish.
He chose not to go into detail about his own future, other than to say that he had a good relationship with President Daniel Levy.
Spurs’ season has collapsed in the last 10 days, exiting the FA Cup to second-tier Sheffield United, then losing to Wolves in the league in a blow to their top-four hopes.
They then exited the Champions League with a whimper, managing just two shots on goal as they tried to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit.
Conte’s tactics have drawn criticism from fans and pundits, and he admitted that fans’ patience had run out.
“I understood that here the patience for the fans, for the environment ran out and then we will see what happens in the future,” said Conte.
Spurs are still in fourth place in the Premier League, but Liverpool are just three points behind with one game less.