Speaking with members of the press ahead of Chelsea’s FA Cup Quarter-Final tie against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge, first-team head coach Antonio Conte spoke of how important a player John Terry is for the club.
“John is doing great work on and off the pitch and for sure he is very important.”
Terry’s contract will expire at the end of the season and his future at Chelsea, the club he has been at since 1998 and captained since 2004, is in doubt. It is expected that he will not be offered a new contract, but the club are reportedly hoping to keep him on in a coaching role.
During the January transfer window Terry was reportedly approached by Bournemouth, Stoke and West Brom, with all three clubs keen to bring in the 36-year-old centre-half. Terry also reportedly received offers from China, but it is understood that he is not keen to move his family to the Far East.
Despite the rumours, Conte insisted that Terry is an important player for him, saying:
“He is the captain and I repeat he is working off the pitch and helping me a lot in the training room to always transfer the right message and for sure he is an important player for us.”
With the season not yet over, Conte also made sure to emphasise that he won’t worry about the issue until the end of the campaign, saying:
“I repeat I prefer every situation, my situation, players’ situation to face this type of situation at the end of the season when it will be the right time for everyone.”
The last time Chelsea faced United, back in October, Conte’s side came out as 4-0 victors at Stamford Bridge. After the match United manager, and former Chelsea manager, José Mourinho commented on Conte’s exuberant celebrations.
Speaking on his celebratory nature, Conte said:
“I think that I showed in my period in Chelsea and not only in Chelsea, in every team I managed, that I lead the game with great passion and sometimes I want to share my enthusiasm and my passion with my players and my staff and the fans.”
“For me the most important thing is to try to win and then to think about the celebration.”
With Mourinho being well-known for his supposed “mind games”, Conte also insisted that his focus would be on the match and not on his counterpart, saying:
“The mind games don’t bring you to the win on the pitch.”
“We must talk during the game on the pitch and I repeat I want to be focused on the game.”
If Chelsea do come out victorious on Monday, then Conte has a real opportunity to win the league and cup double in his first season at the club, much like former Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti did in his first season back in 2010. With that in mind, Conte maintained that his focus is on the present, saying:
“First of all, we have to win and now it is very difficult to tell this because I think we need 24 points to be sure to win the title and there are 11 games to go.”
He said: “For us it is important to go game by game.”
In the news, also, is Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, who has come under increased pressure in recent weeks due to a poor run of results, culminating in a 10-2 defeat by aggregate to Bayern Münich in the Champions League.
Speaking on the Frenchman’s situation, Conte said:
“It’s not an easy moment for Wenger, but we are talking about a great manager and I think in 20 years in Arsenal he did very well. He worked a lot and every year Arsenal have stayed in Champions League and now I think this could be a good target because in England this is not easy.”
“I think he deserves respect for his past and for his work.”