The Italian coach has long conceded the domestic crown he lifted in his first campaign as Chelsea manager, but the manner in which theyve slipped away from a top-four spot has been of great concern to board members and fans alike.
Barring a late season miracle, the Blues will take their place in the Europa League in 2018/19 and Conte has told the club to accept the reality of the situation.
And remarkably, he claimed that he always expected Chelsea to struggle, despite being Premier League champions in 2016/17.
I think that for a club like Chelsea, it is important to play in the Champions League and to play in the Europa League, Conte said ahead of Sundays clash with West Ham.
We must be realistic to understand the reality.
It was my prediction [that we would struggle] and I now stop. Maybe next season, I will have another prediction that is better than this [seasons prediction]. I think that you become stronger after a defeat. When you win, you dont see the real problems.
I think that when you dont win, you have a lot of strength to try to change your situation, to try to have a good answer. During a defeat it makes you stronger than weaker.
I think now is not the right moment to speak about this topic [plans for next season]. The most important thing for us is to finish the season in the best possible way.
To focus on the present and to go game-by-game. Then, if we arrive at the right moment, we will speak about the future.
Though Manchester Citys defeat to Manchester United meant Chelsea can hang on to their title a little while longer, Conte was full of admiration for Pep Guardiolas side.
I think Manchester City have created a fantastic path to the league,” he added. They won the Carabao Cup. In the FA Cup, they were eliminated. Now they are in another competition, in the Champions League.
I think every team has to understand what is your target before the season starts, which is your target that makes you happy about your season.
Then to understand at the end of the season whether you reach your target or not. The table is showing that now theres a great gap with Manchester City. To speak about the gap between us and Manchester City now is not right. The most important thing for us is to focus on ourselves and finish the season in the best possible way.
That must be our focus. Then we arrive in the right moment to think about the way we can work to reduce this gap. We have to try to do our best in every game. We have to look forward but at the same time, we have to look behind [at Arsenal].
The only thing we can do is to try to do everything in every game – to show great desire, to show great pride to finish the season in the best position in the table.
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