Antonio Conte declared himself a “winner” despite a second thrashing for Chelsea in six days, with the Italian rejecting suggestions player power could hold the key to his Stamford Bridge future following the 4-1 drubbing at Watford.
One UK newspaper reported Conte would be sacked if his side followed a 3-0 humiliation at home to Bournemouth in the Premier League on Wednesday with another loss to Watford.
After Tiemoue Bakayoko’s first-half red card, late goals from Daryl Janmaat, Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra condemned Conte’s men to another heavy defeat – the first time Chelsea have lost consecutive Premier League games by a margin of at least three goals since 1995.
The heavy defeat at Vicarage Road on Monday piles the pressure on Conte and, although Eden Hazard scored a fine equaliser before Watford’s late flurry, the Belgium star was among a few key players who were notably well below-par.
Conte, however, denied claims his future at Stamford Bridge could be decided by his players, with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich reportedly in London to check on the club’s stilted progress.
“It is very difficult for me to transfer my thoughts,” Conte told a post-match press conference. “I hope tonight you understand me, I am not worried about my job. I work every day and give 100 per cent. I am not worried.
“Every day and every press conference I am asked, but no. Tomorrow is another day. My soul is clear and I go to sleep without the problem that maybe I could do this. I try to do everything. If this problem becomes of the club it is okay. Life goes on.
“Do you think that a club can decide to sack a coach if there is not the support of the players? I think only here, only here, you think this. You think that the players have this power? Yes? This is wrong. This is wrong. If this happens, okay.
“But, I repeat, in my life when I was a player, I was captain of Juventus and never, ever, did I speak about a coach with my club. And, if the club tried to ask me, this is not my problem
“My task is to work with these players and to have honest players and they work with commitment. The problem is you try to create the problem. I do my job and I have zero issue to sleep.
“For sure, this is a difficult moment. If we want to find excuses, alibis, we can find everything. Tiredness, injuries… but this is not my way to face the situation, to solve the problem.
“The problems – you have to solve with work. You don’t win with excuses. In my life, I like to be a winner – and I’m a winner.”