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‘I’ll never change’ — FA Cup winner Conte warns Chelsea

Feeling the strain: Antonio Conte looks downcast despite the FA Cup final win over Man United at Wembley © AFP / Glyn KIRK

LONDON, United Kingdom, May 20Antonio Conte has warned Chelsea he will never change his demanding ways as the FA Cup winning boss waits to discover if he will be sacked.

Conte ended a troubled season on a high note thanks to Chelsea’s 1-0 victory over Manchester United in Saturday’s final at Wembley.

Eden Hazard’s first half penalty was followed by a backs to the wall display as Conte won the second trophy of his two-year reign in what may prove his final game in charge.

Whether FA Cup glory will be enough to convince Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich not to sack Conte remains in doubt after the Blues finished fifth in the Premier League and missed out on Champions League qualification.

The Italian has been embroiled in a turbulent campaign marred by his feud with the club’s hierarchy over their failure to back his transfer plans following last season’s Premier League title triumph.

Conte is also said to have infuriated several Chelsea stars with his intense personality and regimented training sessions.

But the former Juventus and Italy coach is adamant his managerial style has made him a “serial winner” who should be respected.

In a clear warning that he will never stop pushing his players or demanding boardroom backing, Conte emerged from the jubilant Chelsea dressing room to send a defiant message to his club.

Still soaked in champagne from the post-match celebrations, Conte said: “After two years the club knows me very well. If they want to continue to work with me, they know me.

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“I can’t change. My way is always the same; hard work and to build a strong mentality with my players.

“I can’t change. I’m this and I think my past speaks very clear as a player and as a manager.

“You can say what you want, but I’m a serial winner.

“I showed this in England in a difficult moment for the club. I’ve showed this today, because we found the right way to win this trophy.

“There are moments that you have a lot of questions for yourself. To win in this way this season gives me more satisfaction than my wins in the past.”

– ‘We must be honest’ –

Conte, who won three Serie A titles with Juventus, has one year left on his contract after signing an improved deal without an extension at the end of last season.

But the 48-year-old has given the impression for much of the season that he would have no problem leaving Stamford Bridge because he knows he would still be in demand from top clubs.

Asked if he expects to be in charge next season, Conte said he would respect whatever decision was taken.

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“I always say I’m committed to this club, to respect my contract,” he said.

“As you know very well our job is not simple. I understand that the club can make a decision, a positive decision, a negative decision. I’m the first to understand.

“I’m the coach of a great, important club. It’s right that the club demands of me a lot. For sure we’ll make the best decision.”

In truth, Conte may have burned too many bridges to stay with Chelsea amid speculation that former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique and Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri are Abramovich’s top targets to succeed him.

In another swipe at Chelsea’s refusal to sign his top targets last year, he added: “As you know very well I predicted the difficulty at the start of the season.

“To miss a place in the Champions League is not good for a club like Chelsea.

“We must be honest to tell this. But at the same time you have to know the real situation.

“There is the possibility with this group of players we did the maximum.”

If Conte does leave, it will be despite the support of Chelsea’s fans, who serenaded him as he joined in the celebrations on the Wembley turf.

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“After these two seasons I will always love this colour, these fans, this club. Even if my future must be in a different way,” he said.

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