Wednesday 22 August 2018

My first 100 Chelsea games beat Mourinho's, insists Conte

Antonio Conte risks re-igniting his row with Jose Mourinho. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire
Antonio Conte risks re-igniting his row with Jose Mourinho. Photo: Anthony Devlin/PA Wire

Matt Law

Antonio Conte has risked reigniting his row with Jose Mourinho by suggesting his 100-game Chelsea win-rate is better than the record held by the Portuguese.

The Premier League victory over Burnley on Thursday meant Conte completed his first 100 games in charge with 65 wins, which is the second-highest ratio of any Chelsea manager after Mourinho.

But Conte believes his success, which included winning last season's Premier League title, has come under more difficult circumstances than Mourinho's 72 victories from his first 100 games.

The Italian highlighted the fact that his record, which he insisted should have been better, was achieved following the club's 10th-placed finish. The Blues had been runners-up when Mourinho first took over in 2004.

Ahead of his 101st Chelsea game, the FA Cup semi-final against Southampton tomorrow, Conte said: "For sure, this is a good stat, but I know that, this season, we could have done better.

"Mourinho was 72 in the first 100? We are talking about a great manager. Don't forget that the first 100 games with Mourinho were many years ago.

"Now it's not simple, I think. To have this type of results in this moment, in this present Chelsea. I must be pleased for the players, for the club, but, for sure, we could do better."

Asked why his first 100 games in charge were harder than Mourinho's, Conte added: "Because it's a different era. A different era in the history of the club. Only for this reason.

"I won a title with Juventus after two seventh places. When you win a title in this way, it's a great, great achievement.

"Last season we (Chelsea) won a title after a 10th place. When you win a title in this way, it means it's a great, great achievement. Not a simple achievement, only because your name is Chelsea and it's normal because, in the past, you won many titles. You have to see the era you are going through."

Conte traded insults with Mourinho earlier this season, but the two men shook hands before the last game between Chelsea and United in February.

His latest comments may well provoke a response from Mourinho, with the prospect of Chelsea meeting United in the FA Cup final very much alive.

Chelsea take on Southampton in the semi-final, United face Tottenham at their temporary home.

Conte joined the list of managers to pay tribute to Arsene Wenger, who has announced he will stand down from his position as Arsenal manager at the end of the season.

And the 48-year-old admitted the pressure of modern-day management means it is unlikely he will carry on in the industry that long.

"In the past, the managers could stay in England and work for the same club for many years," said Conte.

"When you know this and have this possibility, you live football and you stay more relaxed because you know you have time to work, to show the importance of your work. In the present, football is not the same like the past. In England, you can see this difference. Now every club is ready to change, no? To change manager if you don't get results. If you don't win.

"I think to live football in this way, your career could be less long, less long.

"Because you live football with more pressure than in the past."

Chelsea, meanwhile, have been ordered by the Professional Football Compensation Committee to pay up to £2.5m to Exeter City for teenager Ethan Ampadu - which is £500,000 less than the Blues originally offered.

It is believed the League Two club were looking for at least £5m for the 17-year-old, who has made seven first-team appearances in his first season at Chelsea before injury ruled him out for the remainder of the campaign.

But the PFCC ruled that Chelsea must pay an initial fee of £850,000, a further £450,000 and potential further payments up to £1.25m based on first-team appearances up to 50.

Telegraph.co.uk

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