Sunday 25 February 2018

Antonio Conte admits Chelsea is a four-year plan - but he may only be around for two of them

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte

Jack Austin

Antonio Conte has admitted Chelsea need four years to become a team capable of challenging for the Champions League on a regular basis – but he may not stick around for that long.

The Italian’s revolutionary 3-4-3 formation saw Chelsea gallop to the Premier League title in his first season, despite a very slow start in the first six weeks which led to reports that he could be sacked a mere two months after arriving in west London.

However, he turned it around to lift the title only to suffer another frustrating summer in the transfer window and now faces the prospect of becoming the first defending champions to lose the first two games of the season, should they lose against Tottenham on Sunday.

And despite being champions, Conte has insisted Chelsea still need to work on their foundations and has revealed he sees it as a long-term plan, but would not commit to being around to finish the job.

“For every coach it’s important to give continuity to the club because when you arrive you don’t know what you’ll find,” Conte said. And when you understand your basis you have to try to work step-by-step, year-by-year to improve this basis, to make this basis more solid and to build a good structure.

“To fight to win the title, to try to win. Last season we did a fantastic season because there wasn’t this foundation or basis. Last season we started to build this foundation and we won so it means we built something. But now it’s not enough, so we have to improve, to extend this basis, work together with new players.”

“I think we need time. We need time.”

Conte’s contract only has two seasons remaining on it and he was non-committal when pushed on whether he would extend it.

When pushed on whether four years would be long enough, he replied: “Yeah, maybe. Maybe. To arrive and try to fight for Champions League, to try to fight to be the best in the world, you need time.

“But I have still two years. This season and next season to work with this club. Then if we stay very well and we have the same vision, we continue. I don’t see any problems about the future. Now we have two years left, but if we have the same vision we can continue to work together.

“I like to be positive. Last season we started a difficult path. Despite this we won in my first season. It was incredible. I continue to repeat this. It was incredible. But now we have started this path and we want to continue together to improve and to bring this club to have a solid foundation to stay a long time at the top and to try to fight to win the Champions League and the league.

“A club like Chelsea must have this ambition. But I repeat we need time. We must have patience to work.”

Independent News Service

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