My commitment to Chelsea did not change after title win, insists Conte
Antonio Conte insists his commitment to Chelsea has not wavered this season, despite ongoing speculation surrounding his future.
The Italian won the Premier League title in his first season at Chelsea, but the defence of their crown failed dismally, with Conte rumoured to be on the brink of leaving long before his side's disappointing fifth-placed finish was confirmed.
As the former Juventus coach searches for answers on the eve of the FA Cup final, he is adamant his dedication to his job never changed and so was not the cause of Chelsea's woes.
"I didn't change my commitment for the club," Conte told a news conference. "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, we were heroes for Chelsea's fans. Now our stance, me and the players, has changed. I don't know. But in my soul and my heart, I'm always a hero because I gave 120 per cent again this season to solve the problems."
4 - Conte is the 4th manager to lift the PL trophy in his 1st season in England (Mourinho 04-05, Ancelotti 09-10, Pellegrini 13-14). Impact. pic.twitter.com/RBxKNVzMuP— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 12, 2017
Conte also feels that his hard work should be appreciated, regardless of his failure to repeat the "miracle" of the title win.
"I like to win trophies. I like to be a winner," he continued. "But, at the same time, I think that, when you work very hard, when you try to give every day 120 per cent, you must be satisfied.
"Miracles don't always happen. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it doesn't. We did an important job."
And Conte refused to be pressed on whether Saturday's final against Manchester United would impact his future at Stamford Bridge, insisting it is a decision for someone else.
"It's not a question for me," Conte said, before eventually continuing. "As you know very well, there are other people to judge your work, to judge the season.
"I don't think I'd be the right person to say, 'OK, if we win, I plan this situation,' or 'If we don't, we plan another situation.'
"I'm not interested in this. I'm interested in winning the final. This is the most important thing for me, for my players."