Conte admits need to settle differences with Chelsea board to see out contract
Chelsea manager foresees ‘several different scenarios’ opening up at other clubs during the summer
Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was back to his firebrand best on the touchline during his side’s 1-1 draw against Barcelona in the Champions League last 16 first leg match at Stamford Bridge, London. Photograph: EPA
Antonio Conte has admitted he would need to settle his differences with the Chelsea board if he is to see out the final year of his contract but would expect “several different scenarios” to open up at rival clubs should he depart in the summer.
The Chelsea manager has seemed calmer over recent weeks after months of stuttering results and (largely recruitment-based) disputes behind the scenes, and he was back to his firebrand best on the touchline. He described the performance as “almost the perfect game” but talk quickly drifted back to his future when he was interviewed by the Italian media.
My intention is to remain here but if something were to change there would be several different scenarios opening up
“In 14 years, Chelsea have changed coach 10 times, so they do have a tendency to chop and change here,” the 48 year old told Mediaset Premium. “The media plays on this when the results are negative and they were already talking about me getting sacked after we lost the first game of the season to Burnley. But it’s no problem for me. In fact, I really like pressure. I just hope it doesn’t affect the players.
“In our line of work, we always have a bag packed. My intention is to remain here but if something were to change there would be several different scenarios opening up.
“It’s no problem for me. I have said very clearly I have a contract to 2019 and I intend to respect it but anything can happen in football. I’m happy here but, to move forward with the marriage, everyone needs to be in agreement. All parties must be happy.”
The Italian Football Federation has expressed an interest in reappointing Conte as Italy’s manager, though he is more likely to remain in the club game if as expected, given his tempestuous relationship with the board, he leaves Stamford Bridge early.
There could be openings in the summer at Paris Saint Germain, Real Madrid and both Milan clubs, positions he would surely find tempting.
Conte had asked Eden Hazard to play as a false number nine against Barcelona, a role in which the Belgian has impressed at times but found difficult against top sides, before switching Hazard to the left upon the introduction of Álvaro Morata late on.
“To be honest, I like the role as a false number nine but, in games like this against a quality opposition, it’s difficult,” Hazard said. “You don’t get a lot of the ball. I think I might have touched 25 balls and 15 of them were flying towards my head. That’s not really playing to my qualities.
“I’ve won some aerial duels, against [Gerard] Piqué, so I think it’s not bad. But if I had to choose, I’d prefer to play like I did in the last 10 minutes. It’s the manager who has the final word. On the wing I feel more comfortable; that’s my place.
“We’re going to see how we will play in Barcelona. We have to give the maximum, defend well but do better with the ball. The pitch is bigger too in Barcelona, so we will see which surprise the manager has in store for us. Nothing’s lost. We can still dream.” – Guardian