Antonio Conte says he feels more relaxed in his second season in England despite enduring a difficult summer in the transfer market and a troubled start to Chelsea’s Premier League title defence.
Last weekend’s dramatic win over rivals Tottenham at Wembley lifted the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge following a shock opening-day defeat at home to Burnley, but speculation about Conte’s long-term future at Chelsea rumbles on.
The Italian fell under scrutiny in the build-up to the new campaign, having voiced his displeasure at the size of his squad as well as Chelsea’s limited success in the summer transfer window.
Recent reports – which were quickly dismissed by the Blues – even suggested that the former Juventus boss was nearing the exit door at Stamford Bridge, with Chelsea poised to bring in the out-of-work Thomas Tuchel.
The champions’ defeat to Burnley in their opening game of the season raised further questions over Conte’s future but a 2-1 victory over Tottenham at Wembley has helped to alleviate the sense of uncertainty surrounding the 48-year-old.
And speaking ahead of Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Everton on Sunday, Conte insisted that after a year of experience he is now “more relaxed” at Stamford Bridge.
“Honestly, I’m very calm,” he said on Friday. “I’m relaxed much better than last season. Much better.
Asked about the state of his relationship with the club’s key decision-makers, the Italian replied: “It’s normal. When you are at a great team, this is normal. If you see also when you stay in Italy, at a club like Juventus or Inter Milan, it’s the same.”
Chelsea’s coach also revealed that he has not looked at his Premier League winners’ medal since bringing it home as he focuses on the challenges ahead.
“Honestly I don’t know where my wife put it,” Conte admitted. “I don’t like to turn around and see the past. I like to see the present, to work for the present and to try and improve for the future.
“I enjoyed that moment a lot. But now this is the past. Now it’s important to try and write another story with Chelsea. The past stays there.
“It’s beautiful if you see the past, but the most important things now are the present and to build a really good future for the club.”