Conference Call: Difficult day

Antonio Conte said conceding a goal so early in the second half in today’s game against Manchester City made it difficult for us to come back.

The Blues defended well during the first half but City scored the decisive goal, through Bernardo Silva, less than a minute after the restart.

Reflecting on the result, Conte said he was pleased with the effort of his players but the home side showed why they are clear at the top of the Premier League.

‘I think that we must have big regret for the defeats against Bournemouth, Watford and Man United but I don’t think today because we played against a team that showed they are a strong team,’ said the Italian.

‘Today they showed the difference between them and us at this moment, 25 points is a big gap. I think we can have regrets for the other games but not this one.

‘The effort of the players was important. They are the type of team who are showing fantastic quality but at the same time a fantastic mentality. When you match quality and mentality you become unstoppable.’

Conte was asked if he felt his players had followed his instructions

‘Yes they followed my instructions. We prepared the game in this way, to not concede space between the lines. Against City you have to use your brain otherwise you risk losing in a bad way, 3-0 or 4-0.

‘We tried not to concede space and for a long part of the match it was good. To concede after 30 seconds in the second half was a pity because then the game was very difficult for us to come back into.’

He was also asked about his decision to not make any changes until the 77th minute

‘We had two strikers [on the bench] and we tried to change the game with them, but when we play against a strong team it’s very difficult for us to keep the balance from last season, with Hazard in the number 10 position. We need to have two players who run a lot defensively and I think Pedro and Willian played a fantastic game.

‘I tried to wait because the substitution was with Hazard and you hope, until the end, that a player like Hazard can invent something but we were unlucky in this aspect. I decided to make the substitution, I don’t know, a bit late. Against United I did it a bit earlier.’

Conte responded to criticism from television pundits regarding his tactics for today’s game

‘At this moment you have to accept criticism but I’m not so stupid to play open against Man City and lose 3-0 or 4-0. If I remember well, a few days ago Arsenal played twice against them and you [the media] criticised [Arsene] Wenger because they conceded three goals in 20 minutes. Pundits need to use their heads and understand when you speak about tactics you must have knowledge, not just speak in a stupid way.’

Earlier in the day Conte paid tribute to Fiorentina captain Davide Astori, who sadly passed away this morning at the age of 31

‘This is a tragedy. It’s very difficult, at this moment, to find the right words for the family. I had him with the national team.

‘He was a great player but especially a fantastic guy. I stay really close to his family at this moment because he was only 31. It’s very difficult to explain this situation to his wife, his parents and daughter.’