Antonio Conte not afraid to face difficult times at Chelsea
LONDON -- Antonio Conte insisted that he has never been afraid to face "difficult situations" in his coaching career as he attempts to prevent a worsening injury crisis from derailing Chelsea's season.
The Blues face fourth-placed Watford at Stamford Bridge on Saturday without N'Golo Kante, Victor Moses and deadline-day signing Danny Drinkwater due to injury, while David Luiz and Tiemoue Bakayoko are both questionable after picking up calf and groin knocks respectively in a 3-3 draw with Roma.
Back-to-back Premier League defeats have left Chelsea fifth in the table after eight matches, nine points adrift of rampant leaders Manchester City, and Conte's prediction back in August that this would be the most difficult season of his coaching career appears to be proving accurate.
But despite speculation that his frustration could see him walk away, Conte reiterated that he is not someone who runs from a challenge.
Reminded of his gloomy preseason prediction, Conte said: "I was a magician to anticipate it. For sure, you hope you won't have problems in your season. But, I repeat, I stay here to work. I stay here to put all myself into this club, for the fans and the players. Me and my staff.
"I'm a person who is not afraid to face difficulties. My history speaks very clearly on that. I fought in the relegation zone [in Italy]. I started my career very badly, my first experience [at Arezzo], but I understood and learned a lot from this.
"I repeat: I have experience, a lot of experience, as a player and as a coach of facing this type of situation."
Reports this week have also claimed that Conte's relationship with the Chelsea hierarchy has deteriorated significantly, as the Italian has reportedly grown exasperated with the inaccessibility of owner Roman Abramovich and the perceived failure of the club to deliver his requested squad reinforcements.
Asked if he retains the support of his employers, Conte refused to comment on his level of contact with Abramovich and insisted: "The support is my job. The support is my job, my work. This is only my support. I know only this support in my experience. I don't know other support.
"The support is my job. To put all myself into the job. If this is enough, it's okay. If it's not enough, [shrugs]. But the only support I know is my job."
Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.