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Antonio Conte

I'm still a Chelsea hero regardless of FA Cup final result, says Conte

22:30 IST 18/05/2018
Antonio Conte Chelsea Premier League
The Blues boss has insisted that too much importance is placed on trophies and not enough on the work he and his players put in

Antonio Conte says that he should still be considered a hero even if his Chelsea side falls short of lifting silverware this season.

The Italian won the Premier League title in his first season at Stamford Bridge but has since seen his side decline in form, finishing outside of the top four to miss out on Champions League football next season.

Chelsea have one last chance to win a trophy in the FA Cup final against Manchester United on Saturday, but they will still have failed in their minimum target of a top four finish in the league.

Still, Conte thinks that his efforts should be respected in the eyes of the club's fans.

"I haven't changed my commitment to the club," the manager told reporters at Cobham Training Ground.

"My commitment has always been the same. Maybe this season we worked even harder than last season. I don't know if something has changed - last season I was a hero for Chelsea fans.

"Now that has changed. I don't know why, but in my soul and my heart, I'm always a hero because I gave 120 per cent this season. It's right to separate [work and silverware] because if you don't win it means you didn't work very hard.

"It means that in France, in Italy, in Germany... there is only one team that has worked hard or one manager who has worked hard. We must divide these two situations.

"As you know very well, our job is very difficult. Sometimes you can win but the club decides to sack you anyway. I'm very pleased about my work this season - I think I worked harder than last season.

"I like to win, I like to win trophies, I like to be a winner. But at the same time, I think that when you work very hard, when you try to give every day 120%, you must be satisfied.

"Miracles don't always happen. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't.”

The FA Cup final last season saw Diego Costa come out and say that he would consider a move to Atletico Madrid after he scored in a 2-1 defeat against Arsenal at Wembley.

Conte then upset the striker by sending a text message to say that he was no longer wanted at Chelsea prompting an eventual move for £58 million ($78m) in January.

The relationship then became fractious between the head coach and the club's board as they failed to see eye-to-eye on Costa or transfers. The 48-year-old then only increased his salary and didn't extend his contract as Chelsea announced his new deal.

This has led to consistent speculation that Conte will leave after the final on Saturday, although he has repeatedly moved to say that he will honour his contract, which expires at the end of next season.

Conte hinted ahead of the game that last season's success wasn't evaluated correctly by officials at the club, who needed to see that their title win was only down to exceptional effort.

"Last season was a wonderful season because we did fantastic work with the players. An important success," he added. "You have to consider the way that you win: if you're going at 300km/h or if you're going at a normal velocity and don't risk burning your engine.

"You must be very good to understand this. When you win, you must understand what is the best way to improve. Last season we won and this season we finished fifth.

"We have to play another final in the FA Cup and we must divide the responsibility with the club, the manager and the players in the same way, and then to try and gain experience.

"If you are clever, if you are intelligent, you understand what is wrong and what is right."