‘Work hard or sit in stands’ - Antonio Conte sends strong warning after axing David Luiz
Antonio Conte has thrown the Chelsea future of David Luiz into doubt after dropping him for the victory over Manchester United.
Luiz was not even named among the substitutes, as Conte preferred 21-year-old Andreas Christensen in the heart of his back three and 17-year-old Ethan Ampadu on the bench. The gamble paid off, as Christensen was superb in Chelsea’s win that was clinched by an Alvaro Morata goal.
Asked by television reporters whether Luiz still had a future at Chelsea, head coach Conte replied: “I don’t know. He has to work really hard, otherwise they are on the bench or in the stand.”
When given the chance to clarify the statement, Conte added: “It’s only a tactical decision. It’s normal. This can happen to every one of my players, if I see that they are not in good form.
“I repeat: I have to put my face in every situation and then to sometimes make important decisions. Today I did this and I think Christensen played a massive game.
“I have a squad with 16 senior players and five young players. I have these players and then I have to make the best decision for the team. But are you talking about the future? Every day you put my future [in the spotlight]. I think it’s normal that, from now until the end, every game, every day, someone puts my future in question.
“It’s very simple, no? The coach has to make the best decision for the team and tonight the best decision for the team was to play with Christensen and to have, on the bench, Ampadu. Another young player. A really good player for the present and the future. “Sometimes I can make mistakes. Sometimes I can do the best things for my team.”
While Conte insisted there had been no fallout with Luiz, there was a distinct sense he had been placed on the naughty step. (© Daily Telegraph, London)