Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s Premier League clash against Manchester City, who have stamped their authority on this season and asserted their dominance as the best team, not only in Manchester, but in the entire country, a rather tired-looking Conte talked injuries, ambition, and unbeatable Manchester City.
The press conference began with questions regarding Chelsea’s injury situation. Conte, who seemed unimpressed by the question, spoke about how the injuries, “are always the same” and ruled out Bakayoko, Luiz and Ampadu for the game on Sunday. No estimated return date was mentioned for any of the 3 players. He was also specifically asked, later on in the conference, about the fitness situation of Barkley and he said the English midfielder was fit and will travel to Manchester with the squad — but, at best, will only be on the bench.
Conte on injuries: "The injuries are always the same. Bakayoko and Luiz. Ampadu also." #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) March 2, 2018
“Ross Barkley trained with us this week and now he’s recovered from his injury. He will come with us and then I will decide if I find a place on the bench for him, or if he will be in the stand for another week.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
The next question came straight out of a, “How to Small Talk 101” book as the journalist asked about the weather. Yep, the weather. What’s next on the menu? Politics? This is why Conte’s the manager and we’re here, I suppose. He managed to answer it without letting his eyes roll.
Conte on weather and snow: "For sure, to have the training session in this situation is not simple. It is not simple to have the pitch in the perfect condition. In spite of this, we tried to work and work well." #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) March 2, 2018
The big topic on the table was obviously Manchester City, their amazing form and how have they managed to do what they did. Well, I don’t know ... but getting one of the world’s best managers and spending £448 million in 19 months for that manager might have something to do with it but I’m no rocket scientist!
Conte on Man City: "I think last season Man City was always a fantastic team but after one season and then the manager tried to improve the quality of the starting XI. To try to improve the quality of his squad and this is the result" #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) March 2, 2018
Conte on Man City quality: "There is a great feeling between the manager and the club and you can work the way you want to improve your team. Also coz City have the possibility to spend a lot of £££. When you link a good manager with a lot of money. This is the result" #CFC #MCFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) March 2, 2018
Formula for success by Conte: Competence + Money = Success. These are not my words, these are the words of the boss (at around 11:07 of the video) and I completely agree with him.
Conte was then asked about how he planned on defeating City and the importance of it. He described them as unstoppable and how every player player will have to be on form to get a good result but it will be difficult. Manchester City’s dominance is shown by the fact that they’re 16 points ahead of city rivals and the 2nd placed team in the division, Manchester United; and 22(!) points ahead of us; losing only once this entire season. Unstoppable indeed.
“For us in this moment we have to try to get a place in the Champions League and it won’t be easy because there are many teams who are very strong, but we must be ready to fight.”
“At this moment, to see an advantage against a team like them is very difficult but we have to prepare for the game in the right way, hope to have our players in good form and try to fight for a good result. At this moment they seem unstoppable.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
Conte was also asked on Chelsea’s ambitions, as compared to City’s and if the top 4 trophy is the “height of the ambitions that a club like Chelsea has”. Decent question there, Mr. Journalist, though inherently silly in a league with 4-6 teams vying for the title and every year and without any of them being able to defend said title in the last decade — and Conte diverted to just talking about ambition in general, saying that it’s the club’s (board’s) duty to decide the ambitions (i.e. spend the money) and it’s the managers duty to work hard and achieve the aforementioned ambitions. This will undoubtedly be talked up as another “sly dig” at the board from Conte, but he’s simply describing how this works at every club.
Conte on ambition of Chelsea compared to City: "I don't know, it is not a question for me about ambition. The club has to show ambition not the coach. The coach has to work every day and work very hard." #CFC #MCFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) March 2, 2018
The last couple of questions of the press conference were about Morata’s form, or lack thereof; and the rumours of Conte’s supposed interest in the Italian National job. To the former, Conte replied that Morata has to work hard and how, after an injury, it’s important to have patience and to work hard. Work work work! To the latter question, he refused to give an answer since he has answered it all before. Conte has mentioned numerous times that he still has one and a half years left on his contract and how he intends to honour it.
Conte on Morata not scoring for 10 games: "He has to work and recover the best form. After an injury in his back, he has to work. He has to have patience and we have to have patience. The only way is to work." #CFC #MCFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) March 2, 2018
That’s all, folks!