Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has attacked rumours that his Premier League title champions have turned against him this season.
UK newspaper The Sun claimed that players had been texting former Chelsea No.2 Steve Holland to suggest that they no longer had a healthy relationship with Conte, although the story has been been pulled from its website.
Holland left his role in the summer to be England assistant coach working under Gareth Southgate and the reports had claimed that Chelsea players felt overworked in training in 2017-18. He is thought to have sent text messages to Conte and others at Chelsea to say that the story was untrue, while Conte publicly fumed at the rumours in Friday's press conference.
“Around us there is a lot of bullsh*t," he told reporters ahead of Chelsea's clash with Bournemouth on Saturday. "I see the past it happened the same with a lot of managers [at Chelsea].
"A lot of bullsh*t. They try to create problems between me, the club and the players. If someone is happy to continue to write this I answer very well in the past. I am answering very well about these different issues.
"This is a lack of respect. I can accept they wrote the club is ready to sack me and the story with the players. I can accept this but to put another person in this way [Holland], I think this is incorrect and it is not good that this person has to send me a message to tell me I am sorry 'that this is not true'.
"Why put another person in this bullsh*t? If you want to hit me, hit me. This is incorrect and I hate this type of situation.”
Conte confirmed that Holland sent him a message to confirm that the newspaper rumours about players contacting him are not true #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) October 27, 2017
The same newspaper also claimed that former coach Carlo Ancelotti, fresh from being sacked by Bayern Munich, has been tapped up to replace fellow Italian coach Conte.
Ancelotti and Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri have both been linked with the Stamford Bridge hot seat but both stories have since been denied, as Conte went on to talk about his friendship with Ancelotti.
"Yes, yes, yes I am in touch with Carlo he is my friend but he doesn't mean nothing. Why, why? I don't read a lot and also for example and for Holland issue only because he send me a message.
"I don't care what the newspaper write about my future or the other person because this is our job and Carlo is my friend I have great respect for him and he was my coach in Juventus but he was sacked in the past but he knows the club very well."
Chelsea have not started the season in the same ascension as they showed last season, with defeats to Burnley and Crystal Palace contributing to them being nine points adrift of leaders Manchester City.
The absence of last season's PFA Player of the Year winner, N'Golo Kante, through injury has been keenly felt and Conte ruled him out of this weekend's clash on Friday.
"N'Golo is still not ready, we have to wait and I hope to have him back for the Roma game [next week in the Champions League]," he added, while wing-back Victor Moses was also ruled out for the visit to the Vitality Stadium.
The Blues rocketed to Premier League success last season on the back of a 13-match win streak but Conte played down expectations of repeating such a hot run of form
"I am not a wizard," he said, "I would like to do this but it is difficult to forecast another run."