Antonio Conte says he has not been affected by rumours that there is a list of managers who want to replace him as Chelsea boss in the run up to their final games of the season.
The coach’s future has been under scrutiny since before the season began, as he negotiated a pay-rise without extending his contract after winning the Premier League title. Conte’s complaints over the club’s transfer policy since then and a decline in performances prompted reports he will be fired in the summer.
Maurizio Sarri, Massimiliano Allegri and Leonardo Jardim have all been touted as potential replacements, but Conte says he is used to dealing with such speculation and is not thinking about the possibility of being sacked.
“I think this is normal. This is our job, our lives,” he told reporters at Cobham Training Ground. “As you know very well, our job is very difficult because [your job] is in the balance every day. It’s normal to have a lot of speculation around you.
“We have to live with this pressure and this type of situation. I have great respect for everyone. It’s right to have this type of situation. I do my job. I trust a lot in my work, I trust a lot in my capacity and the capacity of my staff. This is the only important thing for me.
“It’s not easy to win trophies. For a second season in a row, we’re fighting to win something. Last season we won the league. This season we have the possibility to win another important trophy, and then we’ll see.”
Conte said he hasn’t thought about what will happen after the season ends, as he continues to try to establish the importance of winning their final Premier League game of the season, against Newcastle, before taking on Manchester United in the FA Cup final.
Holding an outside chance of securing a Champions League spot with a top four finish and a trophy still to play for, Conte has not had time to think about Chelsea’s pre-season tour, which sees them playing in Australia, Poland and Sweden. He did, however, announce that he plans to attend the star-studded Andrea Pirlo testimonial game.
“I probably will go to Milan for the game for Pirlo. Then we don’t know, at the end of the season, if we have friendly games. I don’t know anything about the end of our season. For sure, in the next week, the situation will be clearer.”
Chelsea’s mid-week draw with Huddersfield has left them big outsiders for finishing in the top four as they need Brighton to win at Liverpool, while the Blues need three points from their visit to Rafael Benitez’s side.
Conte moved to assure fans that he is not looking ahead to the upcoming FA Cup final against Manchester United and that he will play as strong of a side as he possibly can.
“For sure, we have to try and finish this season and then start to think about the FA Cup final,” he added. “We have to go game-by-game, step-by-step. Now, it’s important for us to be focused on the Newcastle game.
“After that, we have five days to prepare the final. I want to win. I want to win every game. For this reason, I’ll try and make the best decision, also for the game against Newcastle. I want to win and try and get the three points, to continue to have the possibility [of getting into the top four].
“If someone falls asleep in the last game, you must be ready. So, every decision I make will be to try and win. Probably I can change something, but not because I’m thinking about the FA Cup final. Only because some may be tired after two tough games in three days.”