Antonio Conte has spoken of the pride he feels at managing this Chelsea team and has praised the commitment the players show him on the training field as well as in games.
Despite being disappointed with Saturday’s result against Manchester City, Conte is keen to remind people of the magnitude of last season’s achievements, as well as explaining how the desire is strong to achieve more success.
‘I see my players every day and I am proud to be their coach because I see their commitment in every training session and every game and I am pleased for this,’ he said. ‘For sure, to defend the title is very difficult because the past has shown it is very difficult to win two titles in a row.
‘Our motivation must always be high, in every competition. We must put all of ourselves into trying to do the best in every game.
‘Last season was a great satisfaction because the year before we finished 10th and then we won the title and reached the final of the FA Cup. I think we had a fantastic season and this time we have to try to do our best and try to have great satisfaction again. For sure, it won’t be easy but last season also was not easy.’
Conte won three consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus, but is under no illusion that the task of retaining a Premier League crown is much tougher considering how much the top sides strengthen their squads.
‘At Juventus we won the title against a really strong side like AC Milan, but the next season Milan sold Thiago Silva and Ibrahimovic, and they were weaker. It wasn’t simple, but it was easier. Here, if you compare this season with last season, you can see that you have big teams last season and now they are bigger.
‘I think last season we did a really great job because we won the league against really strong teams. Manchester City last season was also a fantastic team. Now, after a great transfer market they improved a lot. It’s not simple to play in this league, but we have to try to do our best in every game, with great ambition, because we must always have the right ambition.’
With international fixtures dominating the next fortnight, the Blues are next in action when we face Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on 14 October, and Conte feels it is important not to dwell too much on Saturday’s defeat.
‘I think we can’t have regrets and we gave everything,’ he said. ‘All my players gave 120 per cent to try to make a good result, but it wasn’t so. Sometimes you have to accept a bad result, but I think the most important thing is to see the fantastic attitude and commitment of my players because they gave everything.’