Antonio Conte opens up: “This is what I think of Luis Enrique replacing me at Chelsea”

Antonio Conte has claimed Chelsea will not find a manager who is better at improving his players, but admitted he is a “disaster” at persuading clubs to sign his transfer targets.

Head coach Conte has also provided Luis Enrique with a glowing reference, even though the former Barcelona manager has been tipped to replace him at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea insist they have not discussed sacking Conte and have not held talks with any potential successors.

Despite the fact Chelsea are looking to bounce back from successive defeats to Bournemouth and Watford against West Bromwich Albion, Conte prepared for Monday night’s game with the joint highest win percentage of any manager in Premier League history.

Ahead of this round of games, Conte and Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola both had a win percentage of 70.3, and Conte outlined exactly what he is good – and bad – at.

Asked if anyone could do a better job than him, Conte replied: “I don’t know. Usually? Usually in my experience, I think I reached the best results possible with the players that I have to work with.

“I think that I’m the type of coach who, if I have a player who is six, I bring him to an eight. If I have a player who is eight, I take him to 10. I’m this type of coach.

“My task is to try and improve every single players, in every aspect. About mentality also. About the desire, the will to fight, and the tactical aspects. Yes. My task is this. For this, I’m very good.”

Conte has fought battles with the Chelsea board in each of the last two transfer windows and has been left disappointed by the failure to sign big-name targets such as Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Alex Sandro and Virgil van Dijk.

Laughing, Conte added: “I think I’m a bit of a disaster to convince the club to buy the players. I think in this aspect I can improve a lot. I have to learn a lot from the other coaches, the other managers, in that aspect. I can learn a lot in that aspect.

“I have to speak more with the managers who are very, very good to persuade their clubs to spend money and buy top players.”

When it was put to Conte that maybe he should stop improving the players he already has, he said: “You are not the first person to suggest this. Not the first person to tell me this.”

Enrique is the favourite to replace Conte at the end of the season and the Spaniard is known to be keen on resuming his managerial career in the Premier League.

But Conte holds no ill will towards Enrique and believes he has proved his credentials at Barcelona and Roma.

“Yes, yes, I know him,” said Conte. “When I was the coach of Juventus, he was Roma’s coach. Yes. I have spoken with him. We played against each other, and he’s a really good person.

“I have great admiration for Luis Enrique and he is a fantastic coach. He reached his targets with Barcelona and, also with Roma, you could see a well organised team. I can speak about him very well, as a person and a coach.”

Asked if it is strange to see somebody he likes linked to his job, Conte added: “At the start, you started to speak about Carlo Ancelotti. He is my friend. We do this job, and our job is not ‘difficult’, but you must be open and understand the situation can change.

“A club can take different decisions. It’s the same for me. But, I repeat, I’m not jealous or envious of other managers. Everyone knows his job, his work. I have, usually, a great respect.”

On the back of just two victories in 10 games, Conte has faced accusations that his players have become bored of his tough training regime.

But the 48-year-old remains unapologetic for his regimented approach, saying: “I think that, usually when you work, you don’t smile. Especially if you work hard. It’s very difficult to smile.

“But, at the same time, you understand that only through work can you reach a fantastic target like last season. Last season, our work allowed us to reach an incredible target.

“Now it’s very difficult to describe my sessions in training. For sure, when you play every three days, it’s impossible to work on the physical aspects. This season, we are not working on this aspect.

“But, if I have time to work with the players and you have the whole week, and you try to start the week with physical session. Then, in midweek, I start to go on the tactical aspect and prepare the game.”

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