Under-fire Chelsea manager Antonio Conte believes his future at the club shouldn’t depend on beating Manchester United in Saturday’s FA Cup final as he launched a fierce defensive of his record at Stamford Bridge.
Conte led Chelsea to the Premier League and the FA Cup final in his debut season in England last year.
However, in a much more troublesome season on and off the pitch as Conte clashed with the club’s hierarchy, a fifth-placed league finish to miss out even on Champions League qualification means the Italian is widely expected to leave no matter the outcome at Wembley.
“I like to win. I like to win trophies. I like to be a winner. For sure, I like this. But, at the same time, I think that when you work very hard, when you try to give every day 120 percent, you must be satisfied,” said Conte on Friday.
“Miracles don’t always happen. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it didn’t. We did an important job. Then it’s not my task to take the decision.”
The former Juventus and Italy coach has consistently criticised Chelsea’s recruitment strategy last summer when he believes the club failed to build on a position of power as champions.
A significant contributory factor to Chelsea’s success last season was a lack of European football.
– Shared responsibility –
By contrast, Conte’s squad have struggled to cope with the demands of four competitions, whilst big money signings Alvaro Morata and Tiemoue Bakayoko have failed to fill the void left by the departed Diego Costa and Nemanja Matic.
And Conte said those responsible for assembling the squad and the players also have to take their share of the blame for a disappointing season.
“In every season you must divide the responsibility, positive or negative, with three parts: club, manager and players,” he added.
“We divided this big win with the players and with the club. Now, this season, we finished fifth. We have to play another final in the FA Cup, and we must divide the responsibility with the club, the manager and the players in the same way.”
Conte has one more year left to run on his contract and insisted his commitment can’t be questioned, claiming to be a “hero” for working even harder than last season to try and turn Chelsea’s fortunes around.
“(Last season) we were heroes for Chelsea’s fans. Now our status, me and the players, has changed? I don’t know. But in my soul and my heart, I’m always a hero because I gave 120 percent also this season to solve the problems,” he added.
“I protect my work. I’m very pleased about my work…because I think this season I worked better than last season.
“When you have a lot of positive situations, it’s more simple. When you have a negative situation, then you must be prepared to work very hard, to work and improve every aspect. I think in this season, I did this together with my staff.”
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