Conte vows to fight speculation ‘to the end’
London: Antonio Conte has vowed to fight speculation over his future “until the end” after Chelsea recovered their place in the top four with a much-needed victory over West Bromwich Albion.
The Italian saw Eden Hazard score twice, and both Olivier Giroud and Alvaro Morata impress, in the dismissal of the Premier League’s bottom club to exorcise some of the memories of recent humiliating defeats to Bournemouth and Watford. Hazard insisted Chelsea “are back” after this timely success, though Conte is braced for questions over his long-term future at the club to persist until the summer.
“We are getting used to the speculation,” he said. “My players know very well what we have to do. Until the end, we continue to live with this speculation so, for sure, we are going to try to fight against it. There is only one way: to win and play good football. The fans have showed me great support because I think they are reading the rumours about me, so I must thank them for that. It means that, in our 18 months together, they understand my passion and my will to defend these colours, this shirt, this badge. To know that people appreciate my work here in Chelsea is important. The players and I are trying to do our best to give them the best satisfaction. Our will is always there.”
Chelsea face Hull City in the fifth round of the FA Cup on Friday before successive games against Barcelona, Manchester United and Manchester City. “We are ready,” said Hazard. “It wasn’t a good moment for us, losing the last two matches, but now we are back. We are Chelsea.
“We are the champions and we need to give everything. We need to be in the top four for the Champions League next season, and we have a lot of games still to play. We will go for everything: we have a good team, good players, and we will give everything to reach our targets. When you play for Chelsea, you have to win trophies.”
West Brom, who have now won only once in 25 Premier League games, will depart for a warm-weather training camp in Barcelona on Tuesday with their Liverpool loanee, Daniel Sturridge, left behind to undergo a scan on a hamstring complaint. The England striker pulled up in the opening exchanges at Stamford Bridge. “He was distraught,” said Alan Pardew. “He’s absolutely devastated because he wants this period to be a success for himself and for West Brom, and in training he’s been really sharp. He might have made the difference today.”
— Guardian News & Media Ltd, 2018