Monday 23 July 2018

Antonio Conte: Chelsea 'marriage' can only work if we settle our differences

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte

Matt Law

Antonio Conte has admitted he and the Chelsea board need to settle their differences if he is to see out his contract at the club.

He has also suggested that there are already potential jobs for him to take if he leaves Chelsea in the summer.

Conte gave a reminder of his coaching ability by guiding Chelsea to a Champions League last-16 first-leg draw against Barcelona, which they almost won.

The Italian was back at his energetic best during the game and once again had his name sung by the Stamford Bridge crowd.

But the draw was not enough to kill the belief that Conte will not be at Chelsea past this season, following the last two transfer windows in which his relationship with the board has been strained.

Asked about his future by Italian media, the 48 year-old said: “In 14 years, Chelsea have changed coach 10 times, so they do have a tendency to chop and change here.

“The media also plays on this habit the moment there are negative results. They were already writing headlines about my dismissal after the opening game against Burnley.

“It’s no problem for me, in fact I really like pressure. I just hope it doesn’t affect the players.

“I said very clearly, I have a contract to 2019. I want to respect it but anything can happen in football. I’m happy here but to move forward with the marriage everyone needs to be in agreement. My intention is to continue.

“In our line of work, we always have a bag packed. My intention is to remain here, but if something were to change, there would be several different scenarios opening up.”

Conte has already been linked with Paris Saint-Germain, both Milan clubs and a return to coach the Italian national team.

Chelsea’s performance against Barcelona may have added to that list of admirers.

Willian scored Chelsea’s goal against Barcelona and the Brazilian believes the team’s Champions League group stage victory over Atletico Madrid proves they can get the required result in the Nou Camp on March 14.

Chelsea won 2-1 in Madrid in September and Willian said: “We can go there (to the Nou Camp) and do a great job again. It will be a completely different game, to play there is different. But if we go with the same mentality as we did against Atletico, we can go there with great spirit and win the game.

“Of course, the result against Atletico gives us confidence. To play these games is totally different, but we want to play big games like this one. It's really important. We tried to win here and now we must go to the Camp Nou. It will be totally different, we must play with the same mentality, prepare well. If we do well, we can win the game there.”

With Chelsea now facing back-to-back Premier League games against Manchester United and Manchester City, Conte has challenged Willian to maintain the level he achieved on Tuesday night.

“These are difficult games,” said Willian. “It is totally different to play in the Premier League to Champions League. I think we can stay at this level and we can go to Old Trafford on Sunday and play another great game. We have to play in a similar way.”

Jose Mourinho was interested in trying to take Willian to United last summer, but the 29 year-old is now aiming to net a hat-trick against his former manager.

Willian scored twice against Hull City in the FA Cup and hit both posts as well as scoring against Barcelona. Asked if he is now ready to complete a treble against United, Willian replied: “It's coming, it's coming (a hat-trick). I'm always ready to score goals. I think the hat-trick is coming soon. I just have to continue to do my job on the pitch.

“He (Mourinho) is my friend. I had a great time with him, but I am at Chelsea and he is now at Manchester United.”

Telegraph.co.uk

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