LONDON – Antonio Conte said Friday that his Chelsea players must take their share of the blame for recent poor results, but repeated his commitment to the reigning Premier League champions.
Conte’s team, currently fourth in the table, have endured a torrid spell, losing 3-0 at home to Bournemouth before being beaten 4-1 at Watford.
The under-pressure Italian, who called for a public vote of confidence from the club during that period, admitted confidence among his squad is low ahead of Monday’s game with bottom club West Brom, and he knows their form must improve.
“I’m not thinking for only one moment about the possibility of going away from this club. I repeat, my commitment is totally for this club, like that of my players,” Conte told the press at Chelsea’s training ground.
“But, as you know very well, because we are talking about football, a lot of times – I don’t agree with this – the coach depends on the results. For this reason, we have to pay great attention.
“When you have this period with such poor results, you have to divide the responsibility between me, the players and the club.”
Conte gave his players three days off following Monday’s late collapse at Vicarage Road, where they conceded three times in the closing minutes.
With a two-legged Champions League tie against Barcelona coming up as well as matches against the two Manchester clubs, Conte felt this week was a rare opportunity for his players to have a break.
“I think it was the only moment in the season to give them a rest. I think in the future it will be very important to try (to create) a little space, a little room with the federation (Football Association) to try to give rest to the players,” he said.
Chelsea remain without injured striker Alvaro Morata against the struggling Baggies, while midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko serves a one-game ban following his dismissal at Vicarage Road.
Defender Andreas Christensen remains a doubt with a hamstring problem, but forward Olivier Giroud could make his first start since his deadline-day switch from Arsenal.