The only thing that worries me about these comments is that they are quite similar to the sort of stuff José Mourinho started spouting towards the end as the world crumbled around him.
That said, Mourinho posed those comments mostly as a wedge to drive between the fans and the board, even going as far as to openly dare the club to not sack him as if he were untouchable. For Conte, the idea from day one has been to repay the fans’ faith, to show fight and improvement and hard work on the pitch — the idea being that even if the results aren’t always the greatest, at least the effort is there and the fans would appreciate the effort ... which we usually do.
The approach is different, even if the goal, a bit of job security, is ultimately the same.
“I think my relationship with the fans is incredible. They always support me – from my first game against West Ham, they prepared a big Italian flag in the stands. I think the feeling with the fans is incredible and I feel pressure to repay this. They call my name, and me and my players want to give great satisfaction to our fans because they deserve this.
“I trust in my work, I give all myself in my work and I feel the pressure to give satisfaction to my players, our fans and the club, because I ask a lot of myself.”
What makes me hopeful is that despite the mistakes and the bad luck and that Palace game, the players still seem to be giving it their all and fighting back even when things looked lost against Roma and Watford. Whether the players did in fact “quit” on Mourinho two years ago is probably up for debate — José using words such as “betrayed”, even if he technically meant it with regards to the work put in at the training ground rather than anything personal, didn’t help — but when the visible effort wanes, the axe is usually not far away. So far, other than the strangely subdued Palace match, there’s been no such hints from this squad.
“In this moment it is important for the coach to stay focused on the pitch, to understand the right way to help your team. It’s not simple because whenever you see your team is suffering, it is not simple for the coach, but you must try to find a way.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
So we’re probably in an okay place — and I don’t mean just in terms of league standings, which sees back among the top four. There are four games left until the next international break, two must-wins in the league and a nice-to-have in the Champions League. And Wednesday’s Academy Day, which should be mostly for fun, even if there is a trophy at the end.
“I am not like the previous managers. I am different. I am different. It is important to understand this. The club has to judge the work and, honestly, I don’t have this type of worry - if I lose the game, if the club decides to sack me.
“In the past, the club decided after two losses or three bad games to sack a manager. I don’t think it is the same for every manager. You change the person, change the work. I repeat. If you ask if I feel this type of pressure about the club, it is zero.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Telegraph
No pressure. No fear. All work.