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Conte confirms his future will be known in ‘two weeks’

“You will then know if there is a different situation”

Ray Wilkins Memorial Service Photo by Jack Thomas/Getty Images

Antonio Conte unintentionally summoned memories of Carlo Ancelotti and Louis van Gaal on Tuesday. Not in a title-winning, trophy-laden way. More of a “This is how they were sacked” kind of way. It was probably unintentional, but the image is inescapable.

Conte made the mistake of honestly answering a question about his future as Chelsea head coach. It’s a question that has followed him like his own shadow this season, omnipresent and inescapable.

“There are only two weeks and then this season will finish. You will then know if there is a different situation, or if you see me again next season, and we start again from the first game speculation about my future.”

-Antonio Conte; source: Goal

What’s in two weeks? The FA Cup final, of course. Can you think of a coach who got the sack minutes after winning the cup?

Van Gaal famously found out he’d lost his job at his victory press conference, when reporters told him that Jose Mourinho was incoming. The story had leaked and he found out in a very bad way.

The echoes of Carlo Ancelotti are heard in Conte’s statement as well. Like Conte, Ancelotti had a three-year deal with Chelsea. Like Conte, his first year was a rousing success, winning the domestic double. Like Conte, he struggled in his second term. Like Conte, Ancelotti’s standard response to his future was that he had another year on his contract and that he was looking forward to fulfilling it. He never got the chance. In fact, he was sacked before he even got on the team bus after losing to Everton to close out the season.

These were the ghosts that Conte accidentally summoned on Tuesday. Sudden dismissal when the whistle blows for the last time, signalling the end to a game and a job.

Understandably, with a Champions League place still a mathematical possibility, if not a likely one, and a cup to be won, Conte is doing the only thing he can: focus on the moment.

“I think and I am sure that I am Chelsea’s coach and my focus is only on this. It is very difficult to comment on any speculation also because there have been speculations around me from the start of the season, after our first game against Burnley (a loss).

“I think you understood that this speculation is not important for me because my focus is only to work in the best possible way with my players. I am doing this from the start, until the end.

-Antonio Conte; source: Goal

Like our chase of the Champions League, the future is out of Conte’s hands, a point he stressed. Like our chase of the Champions League, all we can do now is win out and hope for the best. Unlike our chase of the Champions League, a decision has probably already been made and all we can do is wait it out.

“I think that in this decision there are always two parties to take the decision, not only one side. I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know.”

“There is the club and people able to make judgements about this season and also the situation because we have worked together on this project. I think I am the last person to make a judgement on this season.”

-Antonio Conte; source: Evening Standard

Chelsea have a ruthless streak when it comes to managers. We know that. Avram Grant was sacked three days after taking Chelsea to within a penalty shoot-out of winning the Champions League. Luiz Scolari and André Villas-Boas didn’t even last a season. The first time Roman Abramovich showed patience with losing was three years ago, when he gave Jose Mourinho a surprising amount of rope before finally deciding that getting within touching distance of the relegation zone was being too indulgent.

There are many who would like to see Conte stay. Morata and Bakayoko are showing signs that they might be forces next season and the bones of a good club are visible. With a five-game winning streak in progress and target-man Olivier Giroud onboard, Conte has shown he can still create success. But as with Ancelotti, a late-season rush may have come too late.

“The reality in this moment is that I have a contract, I am committed with Chelsea and in my future. The situation is to be committed with Chelsea for another year. My focus is only to Chelsea. The future? You never know what will happen because our job is very difficult. You have to be ready for everything.”

-Antonio Conte; source: Goal

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