Antonio Conte insists he predicted Chelsea’s current struggles but is adamant he has faced more testing problems during his managerial career.
The head coach warned before the start of the season his squad lacked depth to cope with the additional demands of competing in the Champions League after a one-year absence from European football.
Recent injuries to Alvaro Morata, N’Golo Kante and Victor Moses, together with the continuing absence of Danny Drinkwater who has yet to make his debut following his deadline day move from Leicester City, have further limited Conte’s options while a run of three games without a win have thrown focus on the club’s dip in form.
The Blues face Watford today a week after the alarming defeat at Crystal Palace, who registered their first goal and first point of the league campaign against Conte’s side, before the midweek home draw to AS Roma added to the Italian’s concerns.
Conte, who was left frustrated at the club’s failure to bring in more players during the summer transfer window, said: “I was a magician to anticipate it! Honestly I think to anticipate some difficult situations is not for all.
“But, for sure, you hope. You hope you won’t have problems in your season. But, I repeat, I stay here to work. I stay here to put all myself into this club, for the fans and the players. Me and my staff. But for sure I’m a person who is not afraid to face the difficulties. My history speaks very clearly on that.
“I fought in the relegation zone. I started my career very badly, my first experience, but I understood and learned a lot about this. I repeat. I have experience, a lot of experience, as a player and as a coach of facing this type of situations.”
Conte refused to be drawn on whether he had discussed the club’s current position with owner Roman Abramovich but insisted he did not need an expression of support from the hierarchy.
“I think that, about my talks with the club, it’s right to keep them secret,” he said. “I think, honestly, it must be in this way. This is the right way.”
He added: “The support is my job. The support is my job, my work. This is only my support. I know only this support in my experience. I don’t know other support. The support is my job. To put all myself into the job. If this is enough, it’s okay. If it’s not enough, [shrugs]. But the only support I know is my job.”
Chelsea are currently nine points adrift of leaders Manchester City but insists it is too soon to write anything off. “We are in October,” he said. “It’s very difficult because we have just started our season. To have this type of problem, it’s very difficult to find an answer, no, to this question?
“We have just started our season and now we have to face each competition with all our strength. The most important thing is to put all of ourselves into our work at every moment of the day. It’s important for ourselves, for the club, for the fans to do that. In October, it’s very difficult to make a decision on this aspect.
“I don’t like to speak about other teams. But I think it’s very important to look at ourselves. And then we have to try and do our best. It is the most important thing. To see the other teams is not the right way. It’s not the right way … We must be focused on ourselves to try and improve, to try and have a good season.”