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Antonio Conte criticises Chelsea hierarchy: ‘I don’t have money to spend’

Conte complained that the club do not match his own ‘great ambition’ and that City’s dominance is only going to increase

Jack Pitt-Brooke
Friday 02 March 2018 20:32 GMT
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Antonio Conte is not happy with the Chelsea board
Antonio Conte is not happy with the Chelsea board (Getty Images)

Antonio Conte has prepared for Chelsea’s trip to Manchester City this weekend by telling the Chelsea board that they must show as much ambition and spend as much money as City do. In his most critical comments yet of the Chelsea hierarchy, Conte complained that the club do not match his own “great ambition”, that he “does not have money to spend” and that City’s dominance is only going to increase.

Conte’s Chelsea beat Pep Guardiola’s City to the title last season, but going into Sunday’s game they are 22 points behind, and stuck in fifth place. Conte has made his own frustrations clear this season, but never as strongly as in his press conference at Cobham on Friday afternoon. He praised Guardiola, but he made repeated references to how City are fortunate to have both a top manager and a big budget, the two ingredients required for success. Chelsea, in Conte’s mind, only have one.

“I have great ambition, but I don’t have money to spend for Chelsea,” said Conte.

Having won the Premier League title last year, Conte saw this season as a chance for Chelsea to kick on in the transfer market, which is why he is so frustrated that they did not improve their squad as he hoped they would. He suggested that it was a lack of ambition, even from a team that has won three Premier Leagues and one Champions League this decade.

“The club knows very well what is my idea, what is my ambition,” Conte said. “That is very clear. That ambition must always be the same. When you decide to work with this type of coach, you must understand that you take a coach with great ambition. Not a loser but a winner. For this reason, you must understand this.”

Guardiola is a coach of great ambition too, but the clear implication from Conte was that City match their manager’s ambition, while Chelsea do not.

“When you have a good manager and a lot of money to spend, probably you can have a successful season,” Conte said, casting envious glances at City’s spending and success this year. “It is very important to have the coach and the club with the same ambition: to improve the team, to improve the idea of football, to improve the quality of your players. If you find this situation, probably the season will finish with success. You can win the league, the cup, the cup and league, the Champions League.”

That is what is happening at City this season, as they storm towards the Premier League title and compete for the Champions League title too. Conte warned that City’s dominance of English football is only going to get worse thanks to their fortunate combination of a top coach with money to spend.

“I have great admiration for Pep, he showed himself to be a great coach,” Conte said. “Now it will be very difficult for other teams to fight Manchester City. When you have a great coach and the possibility to spend a lot of money and keep happy your coach and your staff, it’s difficult for the others. Very difficult. This is not the first time I’m saying this. This is a great danger for the panoramic of the other teams. For a long time. The situation is going to improve. Not to stop, but to improve for them.”

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