Defiant FA Cup winner Conte tells Chelsea: 'It's up to you'
Antonio Conte has reiterated his resolve to stay at Chelsea - should the hierarchy opt to keep him.
Saturday’s FA Cup final triumph over Manchester United is unlikely to be enough to allow the Italian a third season in the hotseat, if the club decide failure to qualify for next season’s Champions League and clashes over recruitment carry the greater significance.
But Conte himself will not walk away – especially with a lucrative severance cheque at stake – leaving it up to his paymasters to make the decision about his future.
“I have a contract and I am committed to this club,” Conte said after the 1-0 victory which gave him a first ever domestic cup to go with last season’s Premier League title.
“I think that after two years, the club knows me very well, and if they want to continue to work with me, they know me.
“I can’t change. My way is always the same – hard work and to build a strong mentality with my players. I can’t change, I can’t change.
“I think my past speaks very clear as a player and as a manager. You can say what you want but I am a serial winner and I showed this in a difficult moment for the club. In two seasons, I brought two trophies for the club.”
Conte accepts his position has been under review all season.
.”The speculation started after our first defeat against Burnley,” he said. “But my position was always the same, despite a lot of speculation about my future.
“One day, the possibility to go with the national team, one day to go with this team, and on another day another important team, but every day, I always say I am committed to this club and I have decided to respect my contract.
“Our job is not simple and I understand that the club can make a decision, but I’m the first to understand because I am the coach with an important club in England and the World, and it is right that the club demands of me a lot.
“I have great respect for my club and I am first to accept every decision for the future. After these two seasons I will always love this club and these fans.”
Conte looked happier than he has done for a long time, with the animated gestures of last season returning during the final to complement the beaming smiles after he collected the trophy with his players.
“I'm very satisfied,” he said. “Today was very difficult to win the FA Cup against a really strong team like Manchester United.
“It wasn't easy but I'm very happy for our fans and for my players, because they deserve to win an important trophy.
“This season was very difficult for many reasons. I predicted at the start of the season the difficulty but despite this we finished fifth and we have won the FA Cup.
“For sure to miss a place in the Champions League is not good for a club like Chelsea, and we must be honest, but at the same time you have to understand this group of players did their best in this season and to finish this way and win an important trophy like this, I think it showed great commitment and desire.
“When you are used to winning every season, this type of season can create problems and you can have a lot of questions for yourself, but I think I showed I am a serial winner - this is the truth. And to win in this way in this season gives me more satisfaction than other wins in the past.”