Son Heung-Min frustrated with Antonio Conte for subbing him off despite tight Golden Boot race
Son Heung-Min has admitted that he is frustrated with Antonio Conte for subbing him off early in the North London derby yesterday. The attacker is currently engaged in a tight Golden Boot race with Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah, and the substitution robbed him of the chance to go level with the Egyptian.
Son had added another goal to his tally in the 3-0 win against Arsenal in the league fixture. He scored the third on the night and closed his gap with Salah to just one goal in the top scorer race. The South Korean forward currently has netted 21 times in PL, and perhaps he could have added more if he had played the entire 90 minutes. However, Conte had subbed him off in the 72nd minute, leading to his frustration.
Speaking to Sky Sports after the game (h/t Daily Mail Online), Son has expressed that he is not angry with Conte but rather disappointed with the decision. However, the winger did mention that he understands the substitution as it was a good opportunity to give him some rest ahead of the game this weekend.
“I want to play always but it is the manager’s decision. I need to accept that. He said we have an important game on Sunday so not a big deal. I am not angry, just disappointed because I came off but I move on. I just want to keep playing. There is no such thing as 100 per cent chances to get goals, they were one man down but I just want to play. We have a big game on Sunday and we need to be fresh to help the team.”
The 29-year-old seemed to be furious with the substitution decision at first, looking at the way he reacted after Conte’s decision. Son flayed his arms up in the air and walked dejected towards the touchline, and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg even had to come and console him for the time he took to get off the pitch.
Even the Tottenham boss himself was seen to have a word with the Asian winger, but it is good to know that Son understands the decision. Even if the Golden Boot race is on the line, the team’s interest would always take priority over a particular individual.
After all, Spurs are set to battle it out with Burnley shortly and winning the remaining two games is essential to ensure that we put ourselves in the best position to challenge for Champions League qualification. There is not much time for Sunday’s clash, so Conte’s decision to rest Son is completely warranted.
The supporters would undoubtedly be happy to see Son pip Salah and win the award. However, if they had to choose between a top-four finish and the Golden Boot, it is pretty clear how they would rather see their team qualify for next season’s CL.
Perhaps, Conte’s decision to keep Son fresh for the match vs the Clarets could prove to be crucial in their top-four pursuit. That means the attacker himself would probably be happy with the substitution in the future if they could reach their objective.
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Then again, the fans would remain hopeful that Son would get his hands on the top scorer award with the team also qualifying themselves for the prestigious competition. Whether that will happen, though, remains to be seen.