Full Interview: Conte on his Chelsea future, Bakayoko’s red, player power, will he stay? And more

What are your thoughts after the Watford defeat?

“I have great disappointment, for sure. Our performance was very poor tonight. We started very badly and without personality. We played with fear. I think so. We are not used to play this type of football.

“We can lose, but always we have to try to play football and to try to be positive. Instead, we started very badly. Then the yellow cards… they didn’t change the situation, but the situation because serious. Also because, then, it was the penalty. Then when you go 1-0 down in this type of situation with ten men, it’s very difficult to come back.

“The second half I saw a great will, a great desire, but a lot of confusion too. We were able to draw [level], and I think, in that moment, we must be good to manage the situation. To understand the moment. A great team must do this. Instead, in 10 minutes, we were able to concede three more goals. It’s right, everyone must take responsibility: me, the players. It’s normal, it’s normal this.”

Was it a red card for Bakayoko?

“The double yellow cards to Bakayoko? I don’t know because I didn’t watch the images, and it’s very difficult to talk about this situation. For sure, to play for 65 minutes with ten men, it wasn’t easy. It wasn’t easy.”

Why the fear that they played with?

“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. During the training we try to play one type of football.”

How do you stop this rot of games?

“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.

“But, I repeat, 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 the responsibility. Maybe I made the wrong decision for the starting XI.”

Do these performances make you worried for your own future?

“No. It’s very difficult for me to transfer my thoughts… I hope that, tonight, for once you understand me. I’m not worried. I’m not worried about my job. I work every day, and I give 120%. Okay? If this is enough, it’s okay. 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 Chelsea 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.”

Do you think the players are backing you all the way?

“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, 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.”

So is that happening at Chelsea, then?

“It’s not a problem, it can happen… what is the problem? My task is to work with my players. I have honest players who show me great commitment every day. The question is for you to try to find something wrong, or to create problems at the club and the players. But, I repeat, I do my job. I do my work. If this is enough, it’s okay. Otherwise I go home and have zero, zero problems. I sleep well.”

Is mental tiredness creeping in?

“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.”

Can you get this team winning again if you are given the time?

“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.”

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