LONDON – Antonio Conte says guiding Chelsea to the Premier League title from last season’s 10th-placed finish would be one of his best achievements as a manager.
Chelsea will secure the trophy with victory at West Bromwich Albion on Friday but the Italian remains characteristically cautious until the job is complete.
Only an incredible collapse could prevent Conte bagging the title in his first season and adding it to his three Serie A crowns achieved in successive seasons with Juventus.
Asked on Thursday to sum up the impending crowning of his team, former Italy manager Conte was quick to point out the state Chelsea were in when he was appointed last year.
“First of all I like to underline that this season, it wasn’t easy at the start because we faced a lot of problems,” he told a news conference.
“We had to solve a lot of problems because when you arrive 10th in the league it means there is not one problem, there are a lot.
“The problem is not only one person. We started this season to try to solve the problems and find the solution to change the situation created in the previous season.
“I like these situations. With the national team I took over in the worst period. Then Chelsea in 10th, this is another big, big step for me. But in my career I enjoy to have this type of big challenge.”
Conte is not the kind of manager to count his chickens and his manner suggests he will only be fully satisfied with a Premier League and FA Cup double.
Chelsea face Arsenal in the Cup final on May 27.
“It’s a good season and we want it to become a great season and then a fantastic season,” Contest said.
Contest refused to be drawn on whether he could be tempted to take over Inter Milan next season after media reports linking him to the job at the San Siro.
“I repeat what I have said before. I have a contract with Chelsea. In this moment the most important thing is to be focussed on the moment because that is very important,” he said.
“We mustn’t forget we have to take three points in these three games and tomorrow we have the first opportunity to take three points. Also we must know that to play West Brome is not easy. They are a strong physical team, good coach and the atmosphere there can be very hot.”