Honesty over diplomacy for Chelsea boss Antonio Conte

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Antonio Conte has downplayed his powers of diplomacy, insisting he will remain honest even if that could cost him his job as Chelsea head coach.

The Blues boss’ position has been the subject of speculation all season, amid rumours of friction with the Chelsea hierarchy over transfers.

Conte won the Premier League title in his first season as head coach and signed an improved contract, but not an extension to the deal which runs until June 2019, and his future is rumoured to be in doubt.

“At the same time, I think I’m very honest. The honest person speaks very clearly in every moment. If you are fake, you try always to not tell the truth.

“I prefer to be honest, to tell the truth in every moment. I hate the fake person.”

It was put to Conte he could lose his job for being outspoken, after reports his public comments on transfers had upset owner Roman Abramovich and director Marina Granovskaia.

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich watches on at Stamford Bridge
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is not renowned for showing patience with his managers (Jed Leicester/PA)

Conte was adamant he felt no need to regret any of his words or actions since joining the Blues.

Conte added: “No regrets, no. I think when I take a decision, I don’t want to look behind.

“I want always to look at the present, to look in front of me.”

The Blues boss has repeatedly deferred matters on transfers and contracts to the club hierarchy, although he has done little to hide his frustration at times.

Rafael Benitez with the Europa League trophy in May 2013
Newcastle boss Rafael Benitez won the Europa League when Chelsea interim boss in 2013 (Adam Davy/Empics)

Conte repeated his priority is to coach the players at his disposal, whether his squad is added to or not.

And he insisted he knew the task at Chelsea would be a challenging one after making the decision to swap international management with Italy for the Premier League.

“My life is on the pitch, to try to improve my players, to try to put my idea of football on the pitch,” Conte added.

“I’m enjoying a lot this situation, but, as you know very well, if you want an easy life, you make easy decisions.

“To come and to be a coach in England, now, in this league, is not… you don’t have an easy life, because in every game you have to fight a lot.”

Ross Barkley, Chelsea’s only signing so far in this winter’s transfer window, is poised to make his full debut against Newcastle.

Barkley has made one substitute appearance since his move from Everton on January 5, having last played in May following a hamstring injury.

But injuries to striker Alvaro Morata (back) and playmaker Willian (hamstring) necessitate the England midfielder’s inclusion.

Cesc Fabregas (hamstring) could return, but Thibaut Courtois (ankle) is still out so Willy Caballero is expected to continue in goal.

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