Conte: We can play with pressure

Antonio Conte has backed his players to be able to concentrate on the task in hand and not be distracted by speculation in the media regarding the future.

The spotlight is fixed firmly on Chelsea at the moment following consecutive defeats at home to Bournemouth and away at Watford. A home game tomorrow against bottom-of-the-table West Bromwich is our chance to get back to winning ways.

Plenty of the coverage in the past week has focused on Conte himself, but the boss is clear on its potential to have an impact.

‘Honestly I don’t think talk about my future can affect the players,’ he said. ‘Otherwise from the first game we lost against Burnley, it could happen this.

‘I think my players are getting used to these rumours, to this speculation, but for sure I am very happy with the commitment of my players, the behaviour of my players because they show me every day they want to overcome this situation.

‘We are talking about a team that is fourth in the league [before the start of the weekend fixtures], is preparing to face the game against Barcelona, we are in the FA Cup competition and we reached the semi-final of the Carabao Cup.’

Conte understands when a team like Chelsea loses two games in a row the situation is not simple, but he thinks some of the recent speculation is more like what would be expected if the battle was against relegation.

‘No one person trusted us to win the title this season,’ he said of the media’s pre-season predictions. 

‘If I don’t remember badly, there were two teams to fight for the title – the two Manchester clubs. ‘And also last season we started behind, and for this reason I think there is too much speculation around this club, around me, and around this team. I think maybe you [the media] have to find more balance but I understand we have to live with this pressure, and it is okay for me and for my players.’