Antonio Conte says he is “not worried” about losing his job despite it now looking almost certain that Chelsea will miss out on the top four after a 3-1 home defeat to Tottenham, but refused to elaborate on his opinions for why the champions have struggled this season, saying “I don’t want to create problems”.
The widespread belief is that the Italian does not feel he has been sufficiently backed in the transfer market having won the title last season, and the growing expectation is that he will leave Stamford Bridge by mutual consent in the summer. Both Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain are interested in the 48-year-old. Despite that - or perhaps because of it - Conte claimed he was not worried about his situation, but still refused to open up any public debate about the club’s decisions.
Having gone ahead against Spurs, Chelsea crumbled after Christian Eriksen’s equaliser, to lose to two Dele Alli goals that came from so many errors. It gave Tottenham their first win at Stamford Bridge in 28 years, but also left the champions eight points adrift of the Champions League places in fifth - even if the manager refused to concede just yet. Conte said his team weren’t as “clinical” as Spurs, and conceded a “stupid” goal.
“No, I'm not worried,” Conte said when asked about Chelsea’s tendency for sacking managers and the importance placed on making the Champions League. “Honestly. I think that I'm giving – the players are giving – everything this season. We are working very hard to try to have a good season, but I think that, in the end, we are deserving this season. It means that our value is this.
You have to ask the club, not me. I repeat: my task is to work, to work and I know I work 24 hours for Chelsea. Me and my staff. This is our task. Then the club has to take the decision. But, I repeat, I'm not worried about this.”
When asked whether the situation vindicates Conte’s concerns all season, however, the Italian said: “I think that now is not the right moment to say. I said this before. Now is the moment to try and continue to work with great professionalism. We are doing this. We are doing this and we have to try until the end to do our best. But I think that, if we are in this position, we deserve to be in this position.
“It's difficult... I don't know. I think I have my idea, my opinion, but I don't want to tell you in this situation. I'm very tired for one season to repeat always the same things. I have my opinion and I'll keep that in my mind. I don't want to create problems.”
Conte however refused to concede that the race for the top four was over just yet.
“I don't know, I don't know. On the one hand, we must be realistic and understand the teams that stay ahead of us are going very fast, at great speed. Today we had a great chance to close the gap with Tottenham and we lost this chance. On the other hand, we have to know that, until the end, we have to try and do our best. To try in these seven games to do everything and try to take a place in the Champions League. But it won't be easy. We know this.”
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