LONDON - Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has called for public backing from the Stamford Bridge hierarchy to put an end to growing speculation about his future as manager.
The Italian won the Premier League title in 2016-17 in his first year in England but there have been persistent rumours about his job being under threat this season due to the Blues' indifferent form.
Conte has repeatedly expressed his desire to honour the remaining 18 months of his contract and now wants a public vote of confidence from his employers.
"Maybe I'd like that the club prepare a statement for me to tell (the media), 'I trust in his job, I trust in his work'," said Conte ahead of Monday's trip to Watford.
"But at the same time I know that in the past it never happened, this, and for this reason why would I hope for something different? For sure, I think that I'd like to have a statement to support against this speculation."
Chelsea have failed to mount a serious defence of their title and travel to Vicarage Road 19 points adrift of runaway leaders Manchester City following last week's humiliating 3-0 home defeat to Bournemouth.
After losing to Arsenal in the semi-finals of the League Cup, their only hopes of silverware lie in the Champions League and the FA Cup, while they face a fight to secure a top-four league finish.
Conte said he would welcome talks about extending his contract with the London club despite his struggles this season.
"I'm giving all of myself, me and my staff and also my players, for this club," he said. "And then I think that we are doing the maximum for this club and if the club understands this and the club wants to extend a new contract then we can talk, why not?"
Conte could give debuts to new signings Olivier Giroud and Emerson Palmieri against the Hornets, although neither player is expected to start as they are short of fitness due to recent injuries.