Tottenham’s Antonio Conte refuses to be drawn on Tanguy Ndombele’s future after FA Cup boos

The club’s record signing angered Spurs fans after he took an age to leave the field when substituted with his side 1-0 down

Jonathan Veal
Sunday 09 January 2022 17:37
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Tanguy Ndombele was booed by the home crowd when he strolled off after being substituted (John Walton/PA)
Tanguy Ndombele was booed by the home crowd when he strolled off after being substituted (John Walton/PA)

Tottenham boss Antonio Conte refused to be drawn on Tanguy Ndombele’s future after he was booed by home fans during the 3-1 FA Cup win over Morecambe.

The Frenchman, the club’s record signing, angered Spurs fans after he took an age to leave the field when substituted with his side 1-0 down with only 21 minutes remaining.

In an apparent act of defiance, Ndombele, who appeared to walk slower when the boos started, went straight down the tunnel so missed his teammates scoring three goals in the final 16 minutes to survive a cup upset.

Anthony O’Connor had put the League One outfit on course for a famous victory in the first half but goals from Harry Winks, Lucas Moura and Harry Kane sent Conte’s side through to a fourth-round tie with Brighton.

Ndombele’s behaviour and future was the subject of Conte’s post-match press conference, but the Italian did not want to say too much.

Conte said of the fans’ reaction: “I was so focused on the game because we were losing 1-0. This type of situation, they are in football.

“You have to be good to try to change your opinion. If someone is disappointed with you. It’s normal.

“I was a player and it happened sometimes to me that someone was unhappy with my performance. This is our life. I repeat, it’s OK. We have to continue to work and try to be better next time.

“We have to know very well that if we perform well, the fans are happy.

“If you don’t perform well, the fans are not happy. This is football. If we think the fans have to be happy any time, if you win or lose, I think that’s not right.

“Me, for sure, when I don’t win, I’m not happy, I am upset and I think that is OK.”

Asked if he was disappointed in Ndombele’s slow trudge off the pitch, Conte chose to speak about his reasoning for the substitution: “I think during the game, you have to try the best solution to find something, especially if I’m seeing we’re losing 1-0 and then you have to try to change something, especially when you have on the bench players at the top level.

“In this case, I decided to give a bit of rest to Harry and also Lucas. At one point, when I’ve seen the situation we should change the situation, for sure.

“When you have this type of player on the bench, for sure, the expectation is to change the game.

“It’s not only for this game, it’s our life, the normal life of the coach. If the team is playing and then on the bench you turn your head and you can see top players then you change the game.”

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