Antonio Conte is not asking for a public vote of confidence, at least not in the sense that such statements are usually given — i.e. a coach on the verge of losing his job, like, say Mourinho in October of 2015, which was the last time Chelsea gave one. And then, as it inevitably happens every time, Mourinho was sacked anyway about two months later, which isn’t too far off the 48-day average length of time managers receiving the dreaded vote of confidence tend to last.
Conte’s job security is not in question at the moment, although a loss tonight against Watford could ratchet that pressure up. Conte’s future, on the other hand, seems to be very much in question, or so we’re lead to believe, and he’s not expected to last beyond the summer, whether of his own volition or by the club’s choice. Various reports paint various scenarios, but Conte’s days are quite specifically numbered to the final day of the season, that much everyone seems to agree upon.
Except Conte himself of course. He maintains that he’s not going anywhere. And that’s where he wouldn’t mind getting some public backing from the club, even if, as he acknowledges it, that’s not something Chelsea have ever done nor would ever likely do. So really, he’s talking hypotheticals here. (And, it should be noted, because these quotes do not come from the broadcast portion of the pre-match press conference, we don’t know exactly what question(s) prompted this response to begin with).
“I must be honest, when there are these type of rumours or speculation after the first game of the season against Burnley... Maybe I’d like the club to prepare a statement for me to say they trust me in my work and my job.
But, at the same time, I know this never happened in the past, so why should I hope for something different? But, for sure, I’d like to have a statement of support against this speculation. The challenge is that, in the past, this never happened. So it’s a big challenge to change the approach now. But, for sure, I’d be glad. You only have one person to speak [to make this happen].”
That one person is of course Roman Abramovich, who doesn’t make any public speaking appearances and rarely makes any public statements, or Marina Granovskaia, who also doesn’t do any of those useless diversions. Because make no mistake, no official statement would curtail any speculation — that narrative was set in stone with the two-year deal signed last summer.
“We decided at the start of the season to take this decision [of a pay rise not a contract extension] because I think, in this way, we have the right fire to try and do our best. Me one side, the club on the other side.”
Perhaps an early extension to that contract would do some good, but there’s no need to rush into that. The entire point of the two-year deal was to create a flexible yet highly motivating situation for both parties. Conte’s just going to have to grin and bear it — I’m just here so I won’t get fined — in press conferences.
“Then, I repeat, 18 months in front of us is not a short time. Not a short time. There is a good time to understand and then to continue. But I think in this moment, I don’t want to be opportunistic. I don’t want to exploit... I don’t want to be an opportunist. It’s not the right time to be opportunistic.
”We have the time to make the best decision. I’m giving all of myself - me and my staff and my players, for this club. We are doing the maximum for this club. If the club understands this and the club wants to extend a new contract, we can talk. We can talk. Why not? But I repeat, I don’t like to try to push with the press for a new contract. My contract expires in 2019. My desire and my will are to continue to work with this club.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Evening Standard
Of course by talking about, the idea is now out there and part of the public narrative and discourse. Tis the trouble with elephants. Hippity, hoppity.
In any case, all the talk aside, the one thing that might slay or at least fight the big bad narrative beast is a win or two or three. Sometimes not even that is enough, but it’s the best weapon anyone has. Not public statements, certainly not press conference banalities. Football is a results-oriented business, for better or worse, especially when it comes to the position of head coach. A result is exactly what’s needed tonight.