If Chelsea manage to defend their Premier League title, Antonio Conte believes it would be a similar surprise to last season’s triumph.
Antonio Conte does not believe Chelsea can be considered favourites for the Premier League title, as the Italian has again suggested discontent with the champions’ close-season dealings in the transfer market.
Chelsea begin their 2017-18 campaign at home to Burnley on Saturday, having stormed to glory in Conte’s debut season in England’s top flight.
However, the failure to secure reported transfer targets such as Romelu Lukaku and Leonardo Bonucci, Diego Costa’s pariah status and the departure of Nemanja Matic to the benefit of Manchester United, all appear to have irked the former Juventus boss.
Conte has also penned a new Chelsea contract that did not extend his term at Stamford Bridge, and he was evidently weary in the face of questions regarding further new signings after last weekend’s penalty shoot-out defeat to Arsenal in the Community Shield.
Speaking at a news conference ahead of the clash with Sean Dyche’s side, Conte played down his team’s prospects of becoming the first club to defend their title since Manchester United in 2008-09.
‘If you have to give your evaluation it’s right not to put Chelsea to be a favourite,’ he said.
‘It was the same last season. Not one person believed Chelsea would win the title. This season, at this moment, I agree with people who think this.’
Asked why he was down on his team’s prospects, Conte again alluded to transfer business when he replied: “I have always answered this question, not only once but twice, three times.”
Nevertheless, Conte refuted suggestions that his current demeanour suggests he is unhappy in his job.
‘My state of mind is clear. I signed a new contract, and I decided to stay, to work for this club, and try and give every day 120 per cent for my club,’ he added.
‘The situation is very clear. I’m happy to do this job. I’m trying to do my best every day,’ he said.
– This story originally appeared on FourFourTwo.co.za