Antonio Conte insisted that he does not fear for his job and his “soul is clear” despite Chelsea suffering a second humiliating Premier League defeat in less than a week against Watford.
Troy Deeney, Daryl Janmaat, Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra all struck at Vicarage Road to punish Chelsea — who had Tiemoue Bakayoko sent off for two bookings inside 30 minutes — for a limp and lethargic performance that leaves Conte’s future as head coach in serious doubt.
But speaking in a defiant tone after the match, the Italian reiterated that “life will go on” whether or not he keeps his job after a loss in which he admitted his team had played with “no personality.”
“It’s very difficult for me to transfer my thoughts… I hope that, tonight, for once you understand me,” he said. “I’m not worried about my job. I work every day, and I give 120 percent. OK? If this is enough, it’s OK. Otherwise, the club can take a different decision. But I’m not worried.
“It’s very difficult because, every day and every press conference, you ask me if I’m worried. No. I’m not worried. Tomorrow is another day. I can be the Chelesa coach or not. Which is the problem?
“My soul [conscience] is clear. I go to sleep without a problem that maybe, maybe, I could do this or that. I try to do everything. If it’s not good, the club can make a different decision. Life goes on.
“We played with no personality. From the start, I didn’t see confidence to play football. Usually we train and we play football with confidence. Sometimes we also take risks. Today, our start was very poor. We started with fear. I think this is the worst situation that I can see as a coach.
“To play football in a great club, it means you must have a personality because it’s simple to play when there is the confidence. Especially in this type of moment, you can see who is [ready to play] for a great club. To play with personality and also to risk something.
“In this moment, you have to show you have personality. We have to work, to try to work… but sometimes the work is not enough to change the situation.
“I try to continue. I try to continue to work, to try to improve different aspects of my players. But, today, our performance was very poor.
“For sure, I have to take responsibility. Maybe I made the wrong decision for the starting XI.”
Asked if he still feels he has the support of the Chelsea players, Conte replied: “But 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, OK.
“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.”
Speaking on Friday, Conte revealed he would like Chelsea to publicly back him in order to dispel the speculation about his future. Sources told ESPN FC prior to the Watford loss that the club had no plans to issue such a statement, and they are no more likely to do so now.
“For sure, this is a difficult moment,” Conte admitted. “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.”
Asked if he can get Chelsea winning again, Conte replied: “I cannot predict the future. Especially after two bad defeats like this. We played against Bournemouth and lost 3-0, and now against Watford and lost 4-1.
“Now it’s very difficult to predict turning the situation into a positive, but I can promise to work to change the situation. But, I repeat, today our performance… the level of our performance was very poor.”