Antonio Conte came within a whisker of winning the League and Cup double, only for Arsenal to put-paid to his plans, but the Chelsea manager still feels this debut season in England has been a success on the whole.
After a gruelling 10-odd months, in which neither the players nor the managerial staff got any respite due to the non-stop footballing action, Conte is looking forward to unwind in the off season.
“It’s very important to take two or three days to rest and also to be a bit relaxed after this season,” the 47-year-old was quoted as saying by the club website.
“This season was very tough for me in many aspects, and for this reason now the best way for me is to take three days with my family, to stay with them, to rest and then to try to prepare for a new season,” Conte added.
There is a sense of well-placed pride in the Italian’s words as he declares his contentment with his squad, who broke a Premier League record by winning 30 league games in a single season.
“It’s very important to analyse very well our season. Our squad that we had this season reached an incredible target with players that performed 120%. But we didn’t have injuries this season, we were very good with our work but also we were very lucky. You can have traumatic injuries and it doesn’t depend on the work. We must not forget that,” Conte added.
Conte feels next season will be tough as the Blues will go from being the hunter to the hunted, with teams gunning for them from day one.
“Next season will be another tough season for all the teams. Don’t forget this season we haven’t had a squad like United’s or City’s or Tottenham’s or Arsenal’s. This season we won the league and we start next season as champions,” he said.
And Conte revealed his thoughts about the incident that led to the Victor Moses’ second yellow card, which severely dented the Blues chances of beating Arsenal at Wembley.
The 26-year-old went down in the box anticipating a tackle from Arsenal’s Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, but as the challenge never came, he was made to look stupid and referee Anthony Taylor promptly sent him off.
“There is a lot of tension in these moments and sometimes you could be tired. I don’t think if my player dived he did it with a real intention of doing it,” Conte said, as he defended the Nigerian winger.
“It’s not a good situation to dive, for sure,” the Chelsea manager admits. “But Moses is an honest player and if he did this it’s only because he was tired. He didn’t want to cheat the referee,” Conte added.