Chelsea lacked 'desire, ambition and motivation' in Manchester United defeat, admits Antonio Conte

The Italian took the blame as his side were outgunned and outplayed at Old Trafford

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The Independent Football

Antonio Conte blamed himself for Chelsea’s lack of “desire” and “ambition” in the league leaders' listless 2-0 defeat away to Manchester United, and said his side must now treat the next few fixtures - including Saturday’s seismic FA Cup semi-final against second-placed Tottenham Hotspur - as “six cup finals”, while adding there is now only a “50% probability” of winning the league. The Italian meanwhile refused to blame the absences of Marcos Alonso and Thibaut Courtois for the loss, as an overnight virus the full-back suffered disrupting Chelsea’s balance, and the goalkeeper reported to have picked up an injury in a promotional TV shoot for the NBA.

Conte, however, put the result squarely down to the difference in ambition between the teams.

“I think that the impact was very tough today but when you play at Old Trafford it is normal to have this type of impact against a really strong team as United,” Conte said. “We didn’t play a good game and United deserved to win the game. They showed more desire, more ambition, more motivation. It is very simple but in this case the fault is of the coach. It means the coach was not able to transfer the right concentration, desire, ambition to win this game.”

Asked about how concerning it was to lose two of the last four, Conte felt there were few similarities between this defeat and the recent 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace.

“I think we lost two games but these two games were totally different. Against Crystal Palace, we didn’t deserve to lose. Today we deserved to lose the game. We have to think that there are six finals from now until the end. The league is open and we have a 50% percent [opportunity] to win the league. We will be good to finish on top of the table and it means we deserve this. Otherwise we deserve another thing.”

Chelsea were not first rate, but Conte would not go into detail about why he did not have all of his first XI.

“After a defeat it is not right to go into this situation. Courtois had an injury during the middle of the week and for this reason he wasn’t available but I think it is right to focus on the game and not to find excuses.

“Alonso had a virus during the night and he tried to recover him for the game but it wasn’t possible and for this reason he didn’t play.”

In what seemed a public message to his players, too, Conte said Chelsea must enjoy the pressure of the run-in.

“The pressure is normal. I prefer to play for the title instead of don’t fight for the title and stay calm. The pressure is normal and we are lucky to have the pressure. Last season, Chelsea had no pressure in 10th place and you play calm you are happy. We must understand this, that something really important is happening this season because we are doing a great job and a miracle if you consider last season and the problems we had.

"For this reason we must have great enthusiasm to play these last six games. Be patient and have great will to fight… otherwise we must clap another team

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Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho did not clash as they had at Stamford Bridge (Getty)

“We know the next game and how you go for the final or you don’t go and for this reason you must put 200 percent to reach the final of the FA Cup. It won’t be easy because I think Tottenham now is the best team and they are in good form and they have a lot of enthusiasm.

"They are feeling the possibility to write the history and it is important to know this… this is a game between two teams that are in contention to win the league in this season and I think it will be an interesting game. Now we have five days to prepare this game and then play."

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