Wednesday 16 January 2019

Antonio Conte pleads for patience because of Chelsea's 'totally changed' financial situation

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte accepts he faces an uncertain future after Watford hammering
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte accepts he faces an uncertain future after Watford hammering

Miguel Delaney

Antonio Conte says Chelsea must now show “more patience” as a club because of a “totally changed” financial situation, and even said he would not mind a club statement in support of his work - in other words, the desired vote of confidence.

The manager’s future has come under scrutiny due to the connected unrest over transfer business, inconsistent results and also the club’s general history as regards coaches under Roman Abramovich’s ownership.

The Russian has been quick to dispense with managers and that willingness to change has almost been perceived policy given that Chelsea have still stayed at the top of the game, but Conte pointed to how it was more relevant at a time when the club when more willing to spend.

That is not the case now, as has found in his last four windows. In more restrained periods, Conte argued, “the value of the coach is important”.

The Italian has frequently stated that he is overachieving given constraints. Given so much speculation, he says a club statement in support of him would be welcome. That would ironically go against the general trend of football, given the lore around the “dreaded vote of confidence”.

They are usually infamous for being given just before a sacking, and even Jose Mourinho received one in October 2015, two months before Chelsea terminated his contract. The significance of that was actually the opposite, since Abramovich so rarely comments publicly and did want to keep the Portuguese at the time.

Conte pointed to how times have changed in general. With his side lying in third 18 points off Manchester City, he was asked how many years it would take to get Chelsea back to the top.

“I don't know this. Also because you can see the other teams are working very hard, very strong to improve their squads. It's not simple, not simple. I think a club like Chelsea must have more patience than other teams.

“For sure it would be very difficult. If you compare it to the past, the situation has totally changed. Yes. But especially for this reason, you have to understand that only through a great work, a big work, can you go and try to be closer to these teams who maybe don't have this type of financial problems.”

This is why he said he would not mind a public statement to quieten speculation.

“I must be honest, when there are these type of rumours or speculation after the first game of the season against Burnley [a 3-2 defeat]… Maybe I'd like the club to prepare a statement for me, no, to say they trust me in my work and my job. But, at the same time, I know this never happened in the past, so why should I hope for something different?

“But, for sure, I'd like to have a statement of support against this speculation. The challenge is that, in the past, this never happened. So it's a big challenge to change the approach now. But, for sure, I'd be glad. You only have one person to speak [to make this happen].”

Conte did say he would rather save any discussions for an extension to his contract - that runs out in 18 months - until the summer.

“We decided at the start of the season to take this decision because I think, in this way, we have the right fire to try and do our best. Me one side, the club on the other side. Then, I repeat, 18 months in front of us is not a short time. Not a short time. There is a good time to understand and then to continue. But I think in this moment, I don't want to be opportunistic.

“I don't want to exploit... I don't want to be an opportunist. It's not right, not right. It's not the right time to be opportunistic.”

Conte argued that the changed times at Chelsea mean coaches are less interchangeable than the past.

“Yes, absolutely. In this case, the value of the coach is important. In the same way, with the players. To try to work together with the players and understand you need patience. We have a lot of young players. Our average age is very low now, don't forget. For sure, this is a part of the project. But when you do this, you must have patience. You must have patience and change your thoughts. You have to try to dream. In every moment. Last season, we did something incredible. This season is showing this.”

“I repeat: whoever knows football understands very well that now, we need a lot of patience, to understand a new situation and not complain, but only be realistic. And be strong and to work, work, work. Only through work can you solve problems. Not by complaining or just by buying. To buy is only one part of the problem.”

Online Editors

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