Antonio Conte says he would rather have the pressure of leading from the front than chasing the team in top spot.
The boss will enjoy his first Christmas in charge of Chelsea with his side proudly placed at the Premier League’s summit. While he does continue to stress it is very early days yet, it is still the situation he would prefer.
‘I don’t trust people who say it’s important to stay behind and to not have pressure in this position,’ Conte revealed.
‘No, I prefer to have good pressure and stay at the top of the table. We earned this position and now it’s important to keep this position. It won’t be easy.
‘To arrive at Christmas and open the newspaper and see you are top of the table is fantastic. If you asked me this before, I must be honest, it was a bit difficult to trust to be top of the table at Christmas, but the players deserve this.
‘In my experience you can only keep this position through hard work and by facing every game with great concentration, with great focus, and with a great will to fight and win the game.’
Conte isn’t the only person who didn’t expect the Blues to be in such a strong position so early in his tenure.
‘At the start of the season, not one person forecast Chelsea to be at the top of the table, for many reasons – because the squad was the same as last season, because our market wasn’t great – but we found the right balance between me, my players and the club, to try to change the opinion of the people and try to have a good season.
‘Now we are two games from being halfway through the season, and for this reason we must have the right pressure. Me and these players in the past have had the habit of staying top of the table, but I prefer not to look at the table in this moment. It’s not important. It’s important to look at the table at the end of the season.
‘Now it’s important to continue taking three points to increase our tally. Then, when we finish our season, we will look at the table and see where you are.
‘After 11 wins in a row we are becoming the favourite. But I prefer to be favourite on the pitch, with good results, with good performances, playing good football, keeping clean sheets, showing great passion during games. That’s important.’