Antonio Conte has said he has taken the rumours of being sacked at Chelsea “with a smile” and joked he will find out who put the money on.
Within minutes of Chelsea announcing a kit deal with Nike on Thursday, a sustained and heavy mid-afternoon gamble was reported on the former Italy and Juventus boss becoming the next Premier League manager to be ousted from his position.
He went from being an outsider in the market to an odds-on favourite with some bookmakers, while others refused to take any more money. But Conte did not appear to be too distracted from working on his primary aim.
“I’m trying to find who put the money on, but it is very difficult. It’s very difficult to talk about this situation because I am focused about my work to improve the team,” said Conte in his opening statement to the press.
“I have a good communication and relationship with the club. I take these [rumours] with a smile.
“We are working very hard to change the situation. We are trying to build something important for the present and the future.”
Conte has also suggested he will continue to play with three at the back and is boosted by the return of John Terry.
He added: “It was necessary to find a new solution. It wasn’t right that a great team like Chelsea conceded so many goals in every game.
“Now I have four central defenders and I have to take the decision for three. One must go on the bench!”
“Terry is available. He came back in the middle of the week and did the whole training session.”
Conte followed up by praising compatriot Claudio Ranieri ahead of their meeting with the Premier League champions on Saturday.
“He said: “The Italian people were happy Claudio won the title with Leicester, he’s a good manager and a good man.”