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Conte culpable in uneven season

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Antonio Conte gave a dressing-room speech to Chelsea U18s - Jody Morris

LONDON -- Jody Morris has said that Antonio Conte gave a dressing-room speech to congratulate Chelsea under-18s after they thrashed Manchester City U18s to win a fourth consecutive FA Youth Cup at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

Trevoh Chalobah, Ike Ugbo, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Dujon Sterling and Cole Dasilva all found the net as the young Blues beat City 5-1 on the night to triumph 6-2 on aggregate, maintaining the club's dominance of English football's most prestigious youth competition and securing a first trophy since Morris took over from Joe Edwards as coach.

Conte was in attendance along with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, captain John Terry and all-time top scorer Frank Lampard, and after the match Morris said that the former Juventus boss came down from his vantage point in the East Stand to show his appreciation for another impressive performance from the latest team to emerge from a dominant Cobham academy.

"I've had text messages off him congratulating me and the boys [this season]," Morris said of Conte. "After the game he was in the dressing room, giving a speech, saying well done.

"He is a really good guy. He is not only someone who has done a bit in the game, he's helping Chelsea at the minute."

Mason Mount and his Chelsea teammates celebrate after beating Manchester City to win the FA Youth Cup.
Chelsea under-18s celebrate their emphatic win over Manchester City.

Asked how much contact he has with Conte on a daily basis at Cobham, Morris replied: "I like to go and watch him as much as I can. I did the same when Jose [Mourinho] and Guus Hiddink were here.

"Any manager in charge of Chelsea's first team is going to be top draw. I want to learn. I'm always over there watching. It helps that the manager staggers the training quite a bit because then I get to train our boys and go over, see what's going on over there. I wouldn't say I have a massive involvement with him."

Chelsea have established themselves as a dominant force in English and European football at youth level in recent years, winning five FA Youth Cups in the last six seasons as well as back-to-back UEFA Youth League triumphs in 2015 and 2016. The only honour missing is the U18 Premier League, which Morris is looking to add this season.

"The Youth Cup is in the bag, the Southern League is in the bag, but now we are going for the national league," Morris added. "We are top with three games to go.

"It's always daunting when you start off at the beginning of the season. I knew that this group was capable of improving, it was just how much they could improve.

"I knew we had an opportunity to be successful but you do look at clubs like City, the way they improve each year. I always felt that the team that beat them would win the Youth Cup."

Antonio Conte (left) was in attendance at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

As a graduate of Chelsea's academy who succeeded in breaking into the first team in the 1996-97 season, Morris feels he is well-placed to guide the club's current youngsters.

"I felt I could help them as far as knowing what it is to be a young player trying to break through into the first team," he said. "I know what it takes to be in the first team at a big club. I also know some of the things you need to steer away from as well.

"Not only do you want to help improve the players and develop, you want to be a mentor to them, you want to be their mate at times and there are periods you have to be a bit nasty to them as well.

"That's not just a development for the boys, but for me. I need to make sure I improve in those areas and if there is something I need to brush up on, to get better at, I'm looking to do that as well."

Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.

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