Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has admitted that his team need to become more stable like Tottenham as he aims to reign in expectations amid a selection crisis and his club’s struggles in the transfer market.
Tiemoue Bakyoko, Eden Hazard and Pedro could all be rushed back into contention despite not being fully fit, after a disjointed Chelsea side were reduced to nine men last weekend in a 2-3 defeat to Burnley.
Conte’s rivalry with Mauricio Pochettino is a friendly one and the pair spoke about their admiration for each other’s work despite a title run in and FA Cup semi-final clash last season. Conte concedes that Chelsea need time to build a more stable squad and identity like Tottenham, as they aim to be the best club in the world.
“No-one has put a gun to my head and said: ‘You win or you go away,'” Conte told reporters when asked about his expectations at Chelsea. “The only thing I can promise is work, work, work and that I will try to do my best to improve the club.
“Sometimes you can win but you are not building something positive for your future. I think Tottenham is doing this very well. And I repeat, when I spoke about Tottenham, always I spoke very well about Pochettino’s job, about the club, about their results.”
“I think we need time. We need time. Yes, maybe [as long as the four years that Pochettino has had]. To arrive and try to fight for Champions League, to try to fight to be the bes tin the world, you need time.”
Pochettino has spoken positively about Tottenham’s patience with him despite a lack of silverware and Conte hopes that Chelsea will do the same with him, if he fails this season.
Conte thinks that Spurs’ slow, organic and gradual improvements make them a model to follow and reiterated his admiration for the north London club.
“I think that Spurs started to work with Pochettino for three years, this is the fourth year and Pochettino has had the possibility to work for three years with the same players and have the possibility every season to improve his foundations,” he added.
“For every coach it’s important to give continuity to the club because when you arrive you don’t know what you’ll find. And when you understand your basis you have to try to work step-by-step, year-by-year to improve this basis, to make this basis more solid and to build a good structure.
“To fight to win the title, to try to win. Last season we did a fantastic season because there wasn’t this foundation or basis. For sure, last season we started to build this foundation and we won so it means we built something.
“But now it’s not enough, so we have to improve, to extend this basis, work together with new players. I think Tottenham is doing this very well. Always when I speak about Tottenham I speak very well about Pochettino’s job, the club and their results.”
Despite Conte’s desire for stability and longevity, he only negotiated a pay-rise and not an extension when he signed his new deal this summer. The Blues boss was asked whether he is committed enough and whether Chelsea will be patient enough to keep him around for long enough to build a longer term project at his current club.
“But I have still two years,” he continued. “This season and next season to work with this club, then if we stay very well and we have the same vision, we continue. I don’t see any problems about the future.
“Now we have two years left, but if we have the same vision we can continue to work together. I think that I stay in the right club at this point of my career. I have the vision to work. I have only this vision. Then I repeat we have to continue to work.
“Sometimes slowly, slowly, to try to improve to build something important. But if you ask me how long this path is, my answer is we need time. Honestly we need time [to make that decision]. I like to be positive. Last season we started a difficult path.
“Despite this we won in my first season. It was incredible. I continue to repeat this. It was incredible but now we have started this path and we want to continue together to improve and to bring this club to have a solid foundation to stay a long time at the top and to try to fight to win the Champions League and the the league.
“A club like Chelsea must have this ambition. But I repeat we need time. We must have patience to work. Now there are people working very hard to try to improve the situation. They are working for the best of the club. For this reason the fans must be happy.”