Antonio Conte insists he thrives off the pressure that comes with being Chelsea boss after admitting the club’s recent “custom” of regularly changing managers makes him the target of added scrutiny.
Conte guided the Blues to the Premier League title in his first season in England last year but has struggled to replicate that form in the current campaign, with Chelsea currently fourth in the league – 19 points adrift of leaders Manchester City.
Conte watched his side draw 1-1 with Barcelona in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday night and the Italian admitted after the match that he is now accustomed to the constant speculation surrounding his future.
Speaking to Italian television channel Mediaset Premium following the Barcelona draw, Conte said: “It’s partly to do with the history of Chelsea, it’s unavoidable.
“In the past 14 years there have been 10 changes of manager. Clearly when there is – and I say this in quotation marks – that kind of custom then the press play on it a lot, especially when results don’t materialise.
“This year there’s been a lot of pressure. After the first defeat to Burnley there were people talking about the sack and about a change on the Chelsea bench but that’s because of the history here.
“Chelsea are talked about a lot by the press but for me that’s absolutely not a problem. I just hope that pressure doesn’t affect the players, whereas I like pressure.”
Conte has been linked with a return to Italy and his former role with the national side, who are without a manager following Giampiero Ventura’s resignation in November.
However, Conte insists he is fully committed to Chelsea and intends to remain at Stamford Bridge until the end of his contract.
“I’ve said this in a very clear way, I have a contract with Chelsea until 2019 and I intend to respect that contract,” he said.
“As with a marriage, both parties need to be happy, yet in this profession, we always have our suitcases ready. But my intention, I repeat, is to respect my contract here at Chelsea.”