'Everything is possible' as Conte leaves his options open

LONDON • Chelsea manager Antonio Conte - who is touted to be a top candidate for the vacant Italy coaching job - hinted yesterday that he might be ready to walk out on the club by saying that "everything is possible".

Speaking ahead of the Blues' home Premier League match against Leicester today, the Italian said: "I have another year of contract at this club but, in football, everything is possible.

"Football is this, our job is very difficult. As you know everything can change a few times."

British media have reported that Chelsea are asking Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri or former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique to replace Conte as soon as this summer.

"For the manager of this club, it is normal to have this pressure if you won the league last season and reach the FA Cup final," Conte, whose side can move to second in the league with a win today, added.

"There is something strange that after the first game we lost against Burnley, the press pushed quickly to sack me. But I trust in my work and what we are doing in these two seasons. In football, anything can happen and you must be ready.

"I am happy and enjoying my period here. I am enjoying living in England and with my players.

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  • Goals Chelsea have managed in the Premier League in 22 games, the lowest among the league's top four.

"The press are used to speaking a lot about Chelsea and the manager of Chelsea. I don't ask to change the situation. I continue to work and be professional and have good result."

Conte's side were held to a frustrating goalless draw in their League Cup semi-final first leg against Arsenal on Wednesday despite creating a host of chances.

The Blues were also held to a 0-0 draw by second-tier Norwich in the FA Cup third round last weekend.

With only 41 Premier League goals this season, Chelsea have scored less than any of their top-four rivals and lag 16 points behind leaders Manchester City.

Conte has called on his players to be more ruthless in front of goal and defender Antonio Rudiger agreed that enterprising build-up counts for nothing without a goal to show at the end of it.

"I think the last pass is missing, the final part to score the goal. We have to kill a match off," he said.

Meanwhile, Leicester striker Jamie Vardy is fit after recovering from a groin injury, according to his manager Claude Puel. He missed last Saturday's FA Cup 0-0 draw at Fleetwood but will make the trip to west London.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 13, 2018, with the headline ''Everything is possible' as Conte leaves his options open'. Print Edition | Subscribe