Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte has urged his club to show similar ambition to Manchester City ahead of their clash at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).
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With a top four finish now the aim for the reigning Premier League champs, Conte paid homage to Pep Guardiola and Man City ahead of this game with City currently 16 points clear atop the Premier League table.
Speaking to reporters on Friday, Conte was asked if the clubs ambition was to fight for the title again in the coming years or settle for a spot among the top four.
“I don’t know. This is not a question for me, about the ambition. The club has to show the ambition, not the coach,” Conte said. “The coach has to work every day very hard but the club has to show the ambition.”
Although he has claimed multiple times that he wants to remain at Chelsea and honor his contract through the end of the 2018-19 season, it’s unlikely that Conte will be around to see if the Blues can be serious title contenders next season.
After his incredible first season in England, things have turned quickly for the Italian coach who has publicly criticized the transfer policy and direction of the club on multiple occasions this season. Still, with Chelsea in the last 16 of the Champions League, in the last eight of the FA Cup and currently in fifth place but just two points off the top four, all is not lost.
As for Man City, Conte pointed to their simple equation for success: money. Well, to paraphrase, he pointed to a strong connection between the manager and the club, plus money, being a case of “1+1 = 2” for the runaway PL leaders.
“I think when you work very well and there is a great feeling between the manager and the club – then you can work in the way you want to try and improve the team because also Man City has the possibility to spend a lot of money,” Conte said. “When you link this situation – a good manager, money to spend on the transfer market, and this ambition – this is the final result.”
With Chelsea spending money on the likes of Alvaro Morata, Tiemoue Bakayoko and Antonio Rudiger this season, you can only say the latter has been relatively successful. Conte’s quips about Chelsea’s transfer policy, carried out by their recruitment department, seem to continue as his thinly veiled dig won’t sit well with the hierarchy at the club.
Conte doesn’t seem likely to walk away from Chelsea but his rhetoric is giving the people in power an easy decision to make in the summer, even if they have to pay up the final year of Conte’s contract.