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Thursday 23 November 2017

Antonio Conte believes he has earned the right to patience from Chelsea

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte has downplayed Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho's pursuit of
Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte has downplayed Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho's pursuit of "revenge" at Stamford Bridge on Sunday

Antonio Conte believes he deserves patience at Chelsea after last season's "miracle" Premier League title win.

Chelsea finished 10th in 2015-16 as Leicester won a title no-one had predicted before the Blues succeeded the Foxes as champions in Conte's first season in charge last term.

Title-winning boss Claudio Ranieri was sacked as the Foxes flirted with relegation last season, while Jose Mourinho was fired seven months after leading Chelsea to the trophy in 2014-15.

Conte does not fear the same fate.

"I have to stay with my fingers crossed," said Conte with a smile ahead of Sunday's Premier League clash with Manchester United.

"Honestly, I think I earned my time here with the win of last season.

"I don't like to ask for time. I like to tell the truth. The situation is very clear: my task is to work and to put all myself for this club. Then if it's enough? OK. If it's not enough? OK. The same. I will continue to live.

"If we think I click my fingers and we are ready to fight. It's not simple. Last season happened. A miracle.

"It was a miracle, because we had the same players that the season before finished 10th."

Conte's position has been the subject of conjecture as Roman Abramovich has regularly wielded the managerial axe during his 14 years as Chelsea owner.

The Blues entered this weekend's fixtures nine points behind leaders Manchester City and after a chastening 3-0 Champions League loss at Roma on Tuesday. Mourinho would welcome doling out a significant blow on his former employers.

Conte admits he is not a patient man as he seeks to find consistency for Chelsea, who have performed brilliantly at times this season, but also abjectly.

And he says he has explained to Abramovich and the Chelsea hierarchy of the need to overhaul a squad shorn of the heroes of the last decade of success, which began with Mourinho's first spell at the club.

Conte said: "We must be ready to do something special. But we must be realistic and to understand that we are building. We are creating a foundation.

"It's important to have the patience and then to have the time to do this.

"I understand that it's not for all to have patience - I have not a lot of patience, honestly. But patience is a big quality."

Asked how Chelsea's "miracle" compares with Leicester's, Conte added: "Chelsea's name sometimes covers the miracle, only because your name is Chelsea."

Conte is hoping to welcome back N'Golo Kante - a title winner with Leicester and Chelsea - against United after a six-match absence with a hamstring injury.

Danny Drinkwater could start in the Premier League for the first time alongside his former Leicester team-mate, while Conte says Gary Cahill will start in defence despite his early tactical substitution in Rome.

Press Association

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