Saturday 15 December 2018

Antonio Conte comes out swinging over his future after Chelsea crash to another listless defeat against Watford

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte

Jonathan Liew

Antonio Conte launched a savage attack on his own side and a staunch defence of his own position after Chelsea’s 4-1 defeat at Watford. After Watford scored three goals in the last seven minutes of the game to clinch victory, Conte claimed that his side had played with fear, without personality, and suggested that some of them were not up to the job of playing for a big club.

But asked to assess his own job security, Conte claimed not to be perturbed by the prospect of getting the sack, despite frequent run-ins with the Chelsea board over recent months. “My soul is clear,” Conte insisted, which if true is a hell of a thing to be able to put on your CV.

“I’m not worried about my job,” Conte said. “I work every day, and I give 120 per cent, OK? If this is enough, it’s OK. Otherwise, the club can take a different decision. Every day and every press conference, you ask me if I’m worried. No, I’m not worried. I can be the Chelsea coach or not. Which is the problem?”

Privately, Chelsea sources are playing down the talk over Conte’s job. The club are, after all, still in fourth place in the Premier League and involved in three competitions, not counting Conte’s increasingly entertaining game of chicken with the Chelsea board. Unless things change drastically over the coming days, expect Conte still to be in charge for the visit of West Bromwich Albion next Monday night.

But of course things will have to change drastically, on the pitch if nowhere else, following yet another listless defeat against struggling opposition. “Our performance was very poor,” Conte said. “We started very bad, without personality. We played with fear. We are not used to playing this type of football. We can lose, but always try to play football and try to be positive.

“In the second half I saw great will, great desire, but I saw a lot of confusion. We were able to draw [level], and I think in that moment we must manage the situation, understand the moment. A great team must do this. Instead, in 10 minutes we were able to concede three goals. I didn’t see confidence to play football.

“To play football in a great club, it means that you must have a personality. It’s simple to play when there is confidence. But in these moments, you can see who is at a great club to play with personality. In these moments, you have to have personality. The winner finds a solution. The loser finds excuses.”

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