Antonio Conte has spoken of the need for his players to show pride in playing for Chelsea and their supporters, amid continued uncertainty over the Italian’s future at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea, who staged a second-half comeback to win 3-2 against Southampton on Saturday, are seven points off the top four in the Premier League, with the FA Cup their only opportunity of silverware.
The Blues will travel to Turf Moor to face Burnley – seeking European football of their own – on Thursday, live on Sky Sports Premier League, ahead of a trip to Wembley to face Mark Hughes’ Saints in the FA Cup semi-final three days later.
Conte, who won the Premier League in his first season, dismissed the assertion his players have to produce a strong finish to help improve his chances of staying in charge.
Burnley vs Chelsea
April 19, 2018, 7:30pm
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“I was a player, and the players must play every game, and not for me, but for the club, and for the fans,” Conte said.
“They must have great respect for this badge, they don’t have to play for the coach.
“They have to play for the club, our fans, and to show great character like today. This is the best possible way for a player to be a fantastic professional.”
Conte admitted his side had delivered a “very disappointing” first-half performance at St Mary’s in his post-match interview but added his praise for his players’ response.
“Especially in this type of situation, when there is great difficulty, you must show yourself first to be a man and then a player,” he said.
“They did this in the second half [against Southampton].”