Pleasing Blues fans is my only pressure: Conte

LONDON • Antonio Conte said the fear of being sacked by Chelsea has never gripped him, after his team overturned a deficit against Watford to win 4-2 in the Premier League on Saturday.

The victory eased the pressure that has been building during a difficult autumn for the Italian.

A defeat would have been Chelsea's third league reverse in a row - following losses to Manchester City and Crystal Palace - and their patchy form has drawn obvious parallels with the disastrous title defence of 2015-16.

That season, Jose Mourinho did not last beyond mid-December. Conte has been subjected to the usual murmurings that accompany poor results, but said he was not worried about losing his job.

"I feel a lot of pressure but not this type of pressure," the Chelsea manager said.

"If the club decides to sack me, honestly, I don't feel this pressure. I trust in my work, I try to give everything for the club. I did this last season, I'm doing it this season and I will never be worried about this."

Conte explained the only pressure he feels is that of satisfying the fans' expectations and support.

"The pressure is I want my players to give satisfaction to our fans. I feel this type of pressure. Our fans, they show me and my players every game a lot of patience," the 48-year-old said.

"They show they want to push us in every game. I feel this type of pressure, other pressure is not important for me."

Chelsea needed patience as Watford had chances to put the game beyond them and it was substitute Michy Batshuayi, who scored a brace that turned the game around after the Blues were down 1-2.

"When you play three games and are using the same players, it's important to make important decisions," Conte added of Batshuayi's 51st-minute introduction.

"Sometimes the decision works, sometimes it doesn't, but today I was lucky. If you compare this season with last, Michy is now playing a lot.

"Against Crystal Palace, his performance was not good but it wasn't only him... Today, the impact was incredible, important, and we must continue this way."

Conte also praised the mentality shown by his players, who withstood a barrage rarely experienced during his tenure in the second half.

"To overcome this makes you stronger," he said. "When we were at 2-1 down, it was a very difficult moment, and to come back was important. It means these players have a great desire not to accept this situation."

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2017, with the headline 'Pleasing Blues fans is my only pressure: Conte'. Print Edition | Subscribe