Conte: Credit where it's due

As the build-up to another big game continues, Antonio Conte has explained what a winning mentality constitutes, and he has also revealed what informs his decisions when it comes to choosing his starting XI.

The boss leads the Blues to Old Trafford to take on Manchester United tomorrow afternoon. It follows the first leg of our Champions League tie against Barcelona, and precedes another trip to the North-West, to take on the league leaders Manchester City.

After praising his team’s midweek performance, Conte considered the mentality of his players this season and whether or not it has remained at a consistent level.

‘We missed one game, against Watford,’ Conte said. ‘Apart from that, from the start of the season our mentality was top, and I must be pleased about this.

‘A winning mentality doesn’t mean you have to win every game. A winning mentality is the way you prepare the game; the way you show 100 per cent commitment during training sessions. A winning mentality is to always have good behaviour, to respect your coach, your team-mates, the fans, the club, the opponent.

‘This is a winning mentality, and in every game to only have one idea: to try to win the game.

‘It doesn’t mean you are able to win every game. Sometimes it can happen that the mind switches off, for example against Watford, not only for one player but for the whole team. It was a pity but I think we learned a lot from this game.’

The response since that setback at Vicarage Road has been impressive, with handsome wins over West Brom and Hull, followed by the draw against Barcelona when we were the more threatening team.

The performances of his squad recently leaves him with plenty to ponder when it comes to selecting his starting line-up. After his star turn on Tuesday, Willian will once again be pushing hard to feature from the off at Old Trafford.  

‘I have to try to make the best decision for the team. Now he is playing because he is deserving to play, not because there is some regret for the past.

‘If a player shows me during the training sessions that he is on top form and wants to run offensively and defensively, he plays, otherwise he stays on the bench or in the stands.

‘This is not only for one player; this is for all my players. This means a winning mentality.

‘He played well against Barcelona. I am very happy with my choice. Before the game, some people said, “Why Willian and not Morata?” Willian deserved it more than Morata. In the previous game he played well, and I think I made a fantastic choice, and I would like to take my credit!’

CONTE: We must trust our potential