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Antonio Conte has slammed Manchester United boss and insists he will be leaving Chelsea in a far better condition than the mess he inherited from Jose Mourinho, should he leave Stamford Bridge in the summer.
Chelsea romped to the Premier League title last season a year after they finished a lowly tenth the previous campaign, during which Mourinho was sacked.
Conte has found the going far tougher this time around with Chelsea destined to miss out on Champions League qualification.
The Italian is widely expected to be relieved of his position whatever the outcome of next weekend’s FA Cup final against Manchester United and dropped the clearest hint yet that his future lies elsewhere by admitting he has been left totally in the dark over the club’s summer plans.
‘Don’t forget two years ago, Chelsea ended the season 10th and not in the FA Cup final, not in the semi-finals of the Carabao Cup and they were eliminated in the last 16 against PSG in the Champions League. It can happen.
‘You must know that there is this possibility, because you play in a strong league. For this reason, you have to know this and prepare in the right way. There are six top teams at the start of the season ready to fight for a place in the Champions League. It can happen. In the past, it happened the same.’
Asked if Chelsea were now in a better place than when he arrived, Conte added:
‘For sure, we worked two years and worked very hard to try to build something, to create a base.
‘I think you remember. Last season, after a 10th place, we won the Premier League. It was difficult. We worked very hard, but we won. After a 10th-place finish. Now, probably, you can finish fifth and start with a bit of an advantage compared to when you finish 10th.
‘We are struggling to take a place in the Champions League. But, I repeat, you play in a league that is very tough; where there are six top teams who fight to take the four Champions League places. It can happen. Last season, if I remember, United finished sixth and Arsenal fifth. It means you must pay great attention for the present and the future. It won’t be easy. It’s not automatic that you finish every season in the top four.’
On Chelsea’s summer plans, he added:
‘For sure, probably, I will go to Milan for the game for Pirlo on the 21st [of May]
‘Then we don’t know, at the end of the season, if we have friendly games. I don’t know anything about our end of season. For sure, in the next week, the situation will be more clear for the end of the season.
‘Now, I think we must be focused to finish the season. Then it will be the right moment for the person to understand the situation and take the best solution, find the solution in the best possible way.