Antonio Conte has described himself as "worried" about Manchester City's blistering start to the season and suggested Chelsea stand no chance of catching Pep Guardiola's side unless they strengthen during the January transfer window.
Chelsea find themselves 11 points behind City following their draw with Liverpool on Saturday and the league leaders’ victory over Huddersfield yesterday and already appear to be facing an uphill challenge to retain their Premier League title. City are undefeated in their opening 13 matches of the campaign and have got the upper hand on Conte’s side having beaten them 1-0 at Stamford Bridge in September.
“Manchester City’s path is incredible, no?” said Conte. “Manchester City this season is a strong team, also last season was a fantastic team. Then, after the transfer market, they bought their first targets and they have improved a lot. They can do this also in January maybe. For this reason we must be worried because if we want to compete with City we have to work and then make the best decisions in the transfer market.”
Conte has made no secret of his frustration with Chelsea’s transfer business during the summer and, as such, his latest remarks do not come as a surprise. Whether he will get the financial backing he requires to bolster his resources is unclear.
From the manager there is also an admission that he needs to get more out of the squad at his disposal. Last season Conte altered Chelsea’s formation following defeat at Arsenal, reverting to a three-man defence, and that led to the club becoming champions for the second time in three seasons. With ground to make up again, the Italian has suggested he will need to make another tactical adjustment.
“I’m trying to change something compared to last season because for the coach, if you want to reach something important it’s very important to have a good balance – to be solid and play good football,” he said. “First of all I have all my players. [Victor] Moses, after one month, he came back on the bench. To have all my players, it will be very important because we have to face a game every three days. In our squad there are 16 senior players and I trust them. It will be very important to have them available and to have rotation.”
Meanwhile, Alan Pardew has held talks about taking over as West Brom manager following the club's sacking of Tony Pulis last week, the former Crystal Palace manager said on Sunday.
Pulis parted company with West Brom last Monday after nearly three years in charge, with the 17th-placed club in freefall following four successive league defeats.
Gary Megson, the caretaker manager, helped the team to bounce back with a gritty 1-1 draw against Tottenham on Saturday but Pardew has emerged as a contender after Megson said he was reluctant to reprise the role he left in 2004.
"I've had discussions with them. It is an attractive job so we'll see where it goes," Pardew told Sky Sports. "It is a club that has a really good set of players and I think it is a good opportunity for a manager and if it is me then it is me." – Guardian Service