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WATCH - Antonio Conte shakes hands with West Ham coaching staff - then thoroughly washes his hands


Chelsea manager Antonio Conte

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte


Chelsea manager Antonio Conte

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte came away from the London Stadium with three points and goodness knows what else on Monday night, after shaking hands with a full array of West Ham coaching staff.

The germ-conscious Conte was spied dousing his hands with water immediately after carrying out the formalities with the home bench before the game.

But, as any committed clean-freak can tell you, that water alone won't have done much good and whatever bacteria Conte feared he would pick up in east London could still be living under his fingernails.

With Chelsea maintaining a 10-point gap to the chasing pack at the top of the Premier League, Conte is surely only being prudent in attempting to counter any germ warfare the Blues' increasingly desperate rivals might be employing.

But with only 11 matches remaining in the 2016-17 league season, it would take a lot more than the food poisoning epidemic that derailed Tottenham's Champions League hopes back in 2006 to prevent Chelsea from taking the title.

Refusing to duck the courtesies expected of a Premier League manager, the Chelsea boss also had a warm embrace for his opposite number on Monday evening, Slaven Bilic. With Conte in this frame of mind, one can only imagine that he has since had his smart grey coat incinerated.

Managerial handshakes have become a topic of supreme importance in recent years, presumably as head coaches try desperately to make friends and connections in the brief time they have before their inevitable sacking.

Whether it was this insecurity, or a previously unexplored germ-phobia among Premier League managers, that sparked the recent feud between Stoke's Mark Hughes and West Brom's Tony Pulis - ostensibly arising from a missed post-game handshake - remains unknown.