Belfast Telegraph

Chelsea boss Conte reaffirms commitment amid discontent rumours

Chelsea 2 Everton 0

By Matt McGeehan

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte reiterated his commitment to the Premier League champions after Sunday’s 2-0 win over Everton.

The Italian belatedly signed an improved contract, but not an extension, in July and there have been persistent murmurs of behind the scenes friction.

Conte has spoken of the need to add to his thin squad, but he is adamant he will not walk out if Chelsea fall short of recruiting the players he wants before Thursday’s transfer deadline.

“I’m totally committed to the club,” Conte said.

“I’m a coach, I’m not a manager. The best of my work is on the pitch, to try to improve my players, to try to improve my team.

“Then when you want to strengthen your squad you have to give your opinion and speak with your club.

“But then the club go to the transfer market and try to solve the situation, try to help us. Sometimes it’s possible, sometimes it’s not possible. I must be focused on the pitch.”

Cesc Fabregas and Alvaro Morata scored in a performance in which Chelsea showed their title-winning pedigree, while Everton appeared fatigued by a week which included Monday’s draw at Manchester City and Thursday’s Europa League play-off victory at Hajduk Split.

Conte is leaving recruitment to others but insisted it was necessary as there are seven games next month following the international break.

“When we restart next month we have to play seven games. I need to rotate my players,” Conte added.

Fabregas returned from suspension, but Conte demands more defensively, where N’Golo Kante is the example to follow.

“He scored an important goal for us,” Conte said of Fabregas.

One player Chelsea have been without so far is Eden Hazard following his broken ankle.

Hazard was called up by Belgium for their games with Gibraltar and Greece, and Conte spoke both to him and to Red Devils boss Roberto Martinez on Saturday.

“I spoke with the player and the player is happy to go and stay with the national team. He’s the captain,” Conte added.

“But the most important thing is to continue to work very hard to improve, then to have the possibility to bring him to the bench after the international break.”

Another Belgian, Kevin Mirallas, has upset Everton boss Ronald Koeman.

Koeman said: “Mirallas was out because he’s struggling to deal with moments in a season and with disappointments.

“Everybody can be disappointed, but I expect from everybody to be part of the team and if somebody is showing that he is disappointed and his attitude is not the same, then I make decisions.”

The Everton boss is without several regulars through injury and was disappointed with the first-half display at Chelsea.

“We lost it in the first half and not the second half,” he said.

Chelsea: Courtois, Azpilicueta, Luiz, Rudiger, Moses (Christensen, 88 mins), Fabregas, Kante, Alonso, Pedro (Bakayoko, 75 mins), Willian, Morata (Batshuayi, 77 mins). Unused subs: Caballero, Kenedy, Musonda, Tomori

Everton: Pickford, Keane, Williams, Jagielka (Lennon, 83 mins), Holgate, Davies (Besic, 46 mins), Gueye, Baines, Rooney, Sigurdsson, Sandro (Calvert-Lewin, 62 mins). Unused subs: Martina, Stekelenburg, Lookman, Kenny

Referee: Jonathan Moss

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