Thursday 13 December 2018

Chelsea make their stance clear on manager Antonio Conte after 24 hours of rumours

Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Chelsea are not planning to sack manager Antonio Conte ahead of next Monday's game against West Bromwich Albion at Stamford Bridge, Stamford Bridge sources have confirmed.

Conte's position as Chelsea boss seemed doomed after Monday night's 4-1 defeat against Watford at Vicarage Road, with the Italian tactician appearing to be uncertain of his own future in his post match interviews.

"I'm not worried about my job," stated Conte. "I work every day, and I give 120 percent. OK? If this is enough, it's OK. Otherwise, the club can take a different decision. But I'm not worried.

"It's very difficult because every day and every press conference, you ask me if I'm worried. No. I'm not worried. Tomorrow is another day. I can be the Chelsea coach or not. Which is the problem?

"My soul is clear. I go to sleep without a problem that maybe, maybe, I could do this or that. I try to do everything. If it's not good, the club can make a different decision. Life goes on."

Several bookmakers refused to take any more bets on Conte being the next manager to leave his post, with Dutch veteran Guus Hiddink being widely tipped to make a return to Chelsea as caretaker boss for a third time.

Yet the Chelsea hierarchy appear to be willing to stick with Conte ahead of a challenging month of fixtures that includes games against both Manchester clubs in the Premier League and Champions League clashes against Barcelona.

Chelsea chiefs have also made it clear that reports suggesting they have already approached former boss Carlo Ancelotti and ex-Barcelona coach Luis Enrique over replacing Conte are wide of the mark, yet this stance appears to be fluid.

Anything less that a swift revival in Chelsea's fortunes will inevitably bring down the curtain on Conte's reign at the club, as it appears increasingly likely he will follow in the footsteps of Jose Mourinho by failing to hang onto his job for a full season after guiding the Blues to the Premier League title.

Mourinho was sacked a few months after his title success in 2015 and Conte will do well to avoid that fate, even if he appears to have been given an unexpected reprieve for now.

Chelsea's patience with Conte could change rapidly if club owner Roman Abramovich has a change of heart, but it seems that the manager's uneasy relationship with Stanford Bridge chiefs has not yet reached breaking point.

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