Antonio Conte is only stating the obvious – the top four is Chelsea's genuine target this season.

There is plenty of negative focus on Antonio Conte’s post-match comments made after the defeat to Bournemouth. He is only re-iterating th...

There is plenty of negative focus on Antonio Conte’s post-match comments made after the defeat to Bournemouth. He is only re-iterating the obvious and I do not see why it’s being made into such a big deal. 

Watching SkySports continually loop the “latest” deadline day transfer deals last night, they suddenly stopped to feature Antonio Conte’s press conference. When asked of the defeat and the challenge we now face to finish in the top four this season, Conte replied with an honest and realistic response that for some reason, has made people question whether he will remain our head-coach this season. He said:

“We must be worried [about not making the top four]. We must be worried. It won't be easy.
But this is normal. I'm maybe repeating myself from the start of the season. It won't be easy this season, and we must fight. We must be prepared to fight and ready to do this.

I'm ready. I think the players are starting to understand that this season, we have to struggle for a position in the Champions League.

But I think the players, until now, are great - are very, very top. For their commitment and their behaviours. If they hadn't done that, our place in the table would be worse.

We have to understand that, if we want to speak about football and if we think to understand football we know very well this will be very difficult for us.

If we want only to dream and not see the reality – in this case, I can tell you now we can fight to win the title this season!

My task is to try to be more realistic and try to transfer this to the players, because the players... if they know and understand the danger...

But the players are fantastic in their commitment. They understand very well what our situation is in this season.

[But] It will be very important to look at the reality and to know that, if we are able to reach a place in the Champions League, it will be a great success for us. Otherwise we have a normal season." - Source: London Evening Standard.

We must ask ourselves the question on what our realistic expectations were for Chelsea ahead of the start of the season. Being more than aware of the investment that our rivals had made over the summer in new players and our involvement back in the Champions League this year, we would have taken a top four finish in the Premier League as our aim. That’s the realistic approach whether you accepted that at the time or not, but it is. The fact that Manchester City are blowing everyone away this season, breaking records and have already built an unassailable gap ahead of everyone else is not the norm. Otherwise we would find ourselves within the title race.

The problem we have is the constant speculation over Conte’s future and a point that he made in his pre-match press conference ahead of the game last night. He spoke of the fact that he must prepare his team for each game every three days for the best part of six or seven weeks which is not a problem. The problem he has is that in addition to these games that have come thick and fast through the busy Christmas and New year period, he must sit in front of the media and conduct pre and post-match press conferences. In each one he is asked the same questions and repeats the same answers which surely must be draining for anyone let alone Conte.

The English mentality in the media and our press is to build people up, to celebrate those who are successful, to then wait in the wings to knock them back down again and every single opportunity. At least three times a week we are reading reports of so-called failed transfer deals or problems between Conte and the Chelsea board. Every time he sits in front of the assembled media/press the Italian is asked the same thing repeatedly to the point that he leapt to the defence of his friend Carlo Ancelotti earlier in the season when he was linked with taking over Conte’s job this season. The rumours had forced Ancelotti to contact Conte to confirm that there was nothing in the story and he apologised for the situation.

Now the performance and the result last night was totally unacceptable as described by Alex Churchill from the fantastic Chelsea Blog – A Girl Who Likes Balls – featured in the previous article posted on here (listed below). That has been the case on numerous occasions this season. You expect the press to go to town when we suffer a defeat and the Chelsea faithful to be pissed off and fed up – rightly so. Last night was a one-off in my opinion, just one of those games where nothing goes right, and the opposition take advantage. There have been other games in that we haven’t turned up for whatever reason and Conte must take a portion of the blame which if you think about each one – he has done but once again, has re-iterated his desire to work with his players to put things right.

Antonio Conte gave a defiant response to questions of his immediate Chelsea future last night after the game. When he was reminded of the fact that at Chelsea there is immense pressure to succeed and the fact that other previous managers could not deal with what was expected here under Roman Abramovich, he replied by saying:

“We are doing everything and I’m exploiting this squad at the maximum level. But, if someone doesn’t agree about this, I’m here. I have to accept every situation. I’m very relaxed about this. I know I’m doing a great job, a great work, me and the staff and the players.” - Source: The Guardian.

For me it all comes down to one question – “Has Antonio Conte delivered success since he arrived at Chelsea?” That should be what he is judged on this morning as we look forward to the remainder of the season.

He delivered an unexpected Premier League title last season and reached the FA Cup final. This year with top four our target and to do well in Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup he has delivered so far. We sit fourth (on goal difference from Liverpool) in the Premier League, we reached the semi-final of the League Cup, we face Barcelona in the Champions League latter stages having come through a tough group and face Hull City at home in the FA Cup fifth round – this by not having a full squad of players until now.

As Alex Churchill often refers to in her match-reports, we cannot turn into nappy-shitters and winge and moan at every single opportunity, we must not jump onto this negative bandwagon that follows us week in, week out now. We MUST be realistic, take a step back and acknowledge that we are on track.

Antonio Conte has re-iterated the obvious as far as I am concerned.

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