Antonio Conte has challenged the hierarchy at Chelsea to issue a statement of support” to back his tenure and quash suggestions his job is under threat.
Conte will go into Monday’s game at Watford with his side 19 points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City. Chelsea’s title defense has been reduced to a campaign for a finish in the top four at best as a testing second campaign in charge reaches its final months.
There have also been alleged tensions behind the scenes between Conte and club officials over recruitment, as well as concerns over the intensity of his training and calls of late from the head coach for the board to show “realism” and “patience”.
Although it appears inevitable to many that Conte will leave Chelsea in the summer, the head coach has called for a public show of support to demonstrate he retains the board’s backing even in the short term.
“I must be honest, there were these type of rumours and speculation [that he might be sacked] even after the first game of the season when we lost against Burnley,” Conte said.
“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.”
Chelsea have played 40 games this season — that number was 28 at this stage last year — and there had been concerns Conte has not eased the intensity of training.
However, the former Italian international coach insists that it was in the contrary, saying: “If you compare to the other clubs, we have fewer injuries. The only problem is that, this season, we are playing a lot more and our squad wasn’t big enough to give them the right rest. We are working less [in training] than last season. A lot less.”
“For sure, you have to change your plan, your work. When you play every three days, it’s impossible to give intensity in these two days between one game and another. Sometimes, when I have had the possibility, I have tried to do a little window of work for the players I had decided to rest [after a game].