Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg told Antonio Conte to “elaborate” on the remarkable outburst that has left him on the brink of being sacked as Tottenham manager.
The fiery Italian boss said he saw “selfish players” who “do not want to play under pressure” after his side were pegged back in a 3-3 Premier League draw by Southampton on Saturday.
Conte also seemingly took aim at the club’s hierarchy when he said: “20 years there is the owner and they never won something. Why?”
Spurs are now expected to wield the axe during the international break. Hojbjerg said he can understand Conte’s frustration given disappointing exits in the FA Cup and Champions League to Sheffield United and Milan respectively but thinks there should be a clearer message to help the team get to where they want to be.
“We’ve all seen it,” Hojbjerg told reporters while on Denmark duty.
“[It was a] very honest and very open press conference he gave. It is because he is not satisfied. You don’t do that if you’ve reached the quarter-final of the Champions League and if you’re in the semi-final of the FA Cup.
“It comes from the fact that, unfortunately, we did not get the results we as a team and club wanted. We are still where we want and need to be in the Premier League. But yes, it’s hard, I should say.
“I understand that if you want to be successful as a team, you need 11 men who are committed to a project and a culture. But I think he has to elaborate on how he feels before you as a player can start measuring and weighing.
“The coach has not been satisfied, and that is what I will take with me. You do what you can to please him. What I do know about myself is that I am an honest player. I am a player who always gives 100 per cent of myself for the team.”
“We shouldn’t be in that situation. It’s completely our fault”
Dejan Kulusevski reacts to the draw with Southampton pic.twitter.com/JfxdXiMM8l
— Tottenham Hotspur (@SpursOfficial) March 18, 2023
When asked if he felt Conte was right to take the course of action he did, Hojbjerg replied: “Fortunately, I am not the one to judge it.
“If that’s how he sees it, then you have to be a little more precise in order for you as a player to take it to heart.”
He did confirm, though, that Conte did not give his players prior warning of the tirade that was to come.
“He didn’t tell us what he wanted to say at the press conference,” he said.
“But it is clear that you work with each other every day, you want the best for each other and you want to be successful together. And sometimes the waves go high in football.”
Spurs are fourth in the table but each of Newcastle United, Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion own games in hand in a congested fight for Champions League football.
They return to action at home to Everton on April 3.
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