Antonio Conte admits he would not back Chelsea to win the title.
Conte begins the defence of Chelsea’s Premier League crown today amid a backdrop of transfer frustration, an ugly stand-off with Diego Costa and missing his star player Eden Hazard.
Chelsea boss Conte did not even attempt to hide his unhappiness as he made it perfectly clear that he understands why the pundits and bookies do not give the Blues much of a chance.
Conte said: “Honestly, if you have to give your evaluation on the card (on paper) it’s right. It’s right not to put Chelsea to be a favourite.
“It was the same last season. Not one person believed Chelsea would win the title. This season, in this moment, I agree with these people who think this.”
When quizzed as to why he was so gloomy about Chelsea’s prospects, Conte banged a familiar drum as he referred to the club’s lack of transfer activity.
“Why?” asked Conte. “I have always answered this question, not only once but twice, three times.”
Chelsea were beaten to the signing of Romelu Lukaku and had to settle for Alvaro Morata while Conte insists they need more reinforcements to stop the season being a disaster.
It has been an unhappy summer which threatens to destabilise their start which opens with what should be a straightforward home game with Burnley but quickly becomes a tricky start with Tottenham and Everton.
Conte should be building for the long term but is already facing doubts about his future and whether he will see out the season let alone his contract.
It is a familiar soap opera at Chelsea as Jose Mourinho was gone within months of winning the title two years ago when a very winnable opening day fixture with Swansea ended in a draw and signalled the start of his departure.
Conte, still looking tanned, could not disguise his unhappiness and concern as the doubts mount. However, Conte did admit that even he was “surprised” when they won the title last season.
Conte added: “In my career, I worked always with great pressure and, I repeat, it’s normal to have this type of pressure, the most important thing is to face the pressure in the right way and sometimes you are more serious, sometimes you laugh, but it’s important to have the habit to face the pressure.
“My state of mind is clear, and at the moment I signed a new contract, and then I decided to stay, to work for this club, and then to try and give every day 120% in the work for my club.
“For my players, yeah, then, the situation is very clear and I’m happy to do this job, and I’m trying… I’m trying, no, I’m doing my best every day.”