Antonio Conte says Chelsea players must take share of flak for inconsistent season
By Richard Cooke
Last Updated: 17/03/18 8:15am
Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte has told his players they must share the responsibility for their inconsistent season.
Speculation over the Italian's position will only increase if Chelsea fail to beat Leicester in the FA Cup on Sunday and then fall further adrift of the Premier League top-four by not beating Tottenham on April 1, live on Sky Sports.
But Conte says they must receive the plaudits and any flak as a collective. "Like last season when we won the title and reached the final of the FA Cup, it's always the same," he said.
"We must be ready to share the responsibility with the club, the players and with me and my staff. This must be very clear."
The Champions League exit to Barcelona on Wednesday means the FA Cup is Chelsea's last hope of a trophy this season but they are also are determined to finish in the top four.
They are fifth in the Premier League, four points behind fourth-placed Spurs with eight games remaining.
"We have to try to do both," Conte added. "To try to reach the semi-final in the FA Cup, it won't be easy. Leicester is a good team. In the last game we played at home we suffered against them (drawing 0-0).
"Then to try to do our best also in the league, to find a place in the Champions League. It won't be easy."
Conte has rotated his options in previous FA Cup rounds, but will field his first-choice line-up against the Foxes.
Goalkeeper Willy Caballero has started in prior rounds and could continue after Lionel Messi twice scored through the legs of Thibaut Courtois at the Nou Camp.
"Now we are not playing every three days," the Italian said. "We played Barcelona, but we've had whole weeks to recover and rest. For this reason I'll pick the best solution for Sunday's game."
England defender Gary Cahill and Spain striker Alvaro Morata have found themselves out of the team of late and were left out of their respective national teams for this month's friendlies, placing their World Cup hopes in jeopardy.
Former Italy boss Conte said: "My only worry is to try to have the players in the best form for Chelsea. Then there is a national team coach to make the best decision for the country."