Courtois and Co close ranks behind Conte

Chelsea's Kenedy celebrating his League Cup goal against Nottingham Forest in the last round. He will be expected to start against Everton at home.
Chelsea's Kenedy celebrating his League Cup goal against Nottingham Forest in the last round. He will be expected to start against Everton at home.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Chelsea manager Antonio Conte will have the full support from his players to help the Italian avoid suffering the same fate as Jose Mourinho two years back, the Premier League champions' goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has said.

Chelsea ended a three-match winless streak with a victory over Watford last weekend, but the build-up to that game was clouded by speculation over Conte's future with media reports suggesting that his training methods had caused friction.

Courtois compared the situation to that of Mourinho, who won the league in 2014-15, but was sacked the following season after a poor run of results.

"We are ready to fight for the coach," Courtois told Standard Sport. "I remember what happened two years ago under Mourinho and there were stories about the dressing room without knowing what was happening.

"We are happy to show that we are ready to fight. We all know what would have happened (more debate over Conte's future) if we had lost against Watford."

Courtois, 25, dismissed reports regarding player unrest over the manager's training methods.

"Every manager has his own routine. With Antonio, we do a lot of tactical sessions and drills. We are fine with it," the Belgian said.

Fourth-placed Chelsea face Everton in the League Cup fourth round today before travelling to 19th-placed Bournemouth in the league on Saturday.

With key players still sidelined with injury, Conte is likely to field a second-string line-up to preserve his regular starters for the league.

Charly Musonda and Kenedy both started and scored in the 5-1 win over Nottingham Forest in the previous round of the League Cup, and are expected to be in Conte's starting XI in the last-16 tie at Stamford Bridge today.

"I think for the game against Everton, it is impossible to recover for (Danny) Drinkwater. (Victor) Moses needs more time and so does (N'Golo) Kante," Conte told London's Evening Standard.

"But I think this could be a good opportunity to give a chance to the young players like Musonda, also Kenedy, young players who I think deserve the chance (to play)."

David Unsworth, meanwhile, has said that he is "very proud" after being appointed caretaker manager of Everton following the sacking of Ronald Koeman on Monday.

The former Everton defender will be keen to prove himself worthy of taking on the role on a full-time basis with a good result.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2017, with the headline 'Courtois and Co close ranks behind Conte'. Print Edition | Subscribe