Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has warned there must be an overhaul of the playing squad if they are to improve drastically next season.
Conte’s future remains in doubt despite the Blues having beaten Manchester United in Saturday’s FA Cup final, courtesy of an Eden Hazard penalty.
It has been suggested throughout the season the Italian’s relationship with the Chelsea hierarchy has soured since their Premier League title win last term, thanks largely to disagreements over transfer strategy.
United manager Jose Mourinho accused Conte of adopting defensive tactics at Wembley, but the former Juventus coach insists it will be the only way to bring success to Stamford Bridge unless there is an overhaul of the squad in the transfer window.
“For sure, when you decide to take a coach like me, you must know who you are taking, who you are charging for this job,” he told a news conference. “I cannot change my personality, I cannot change my idea of football. I can find the right way to win this trophy, for sure.
“If you ask me if we can play better then, yes, we can play better. But now the real situation of this club is this: we have to play strong defensively if you want to win a trophy or to get a place in the Champions League.
“Maybe we missed the Champions League this season because we tried to play very open and in this moment you can’t do this, especially with a strong team, because to concede three goals in seven games it means you don’t have stability. A great team doesn’t concede three goals or four goals against Watford.
“Then, against Manchester United, it was the only way, the only way to lift a trophy. Now we are in this moment and if you want to change then we can change our idea, but you must change many players.”
Conte’s position has come under greater scrutiny given Chelsea failed to qualify for the Champions League, finishing only fifth in the Premier League.
The former midfielder says he has never considered calling an abrupt end to his time in England, though, even when there was speculation over a return to the Italy job during the season.
“My mind was always very clear – to respect the contract for this club. I didn’t think for one second to leave the club at the end of this season,” he said.
“As you know, every season I have to speak with the club and also in the last season after we won the league, we spoke. We spoke with the club and we tried to find the right way to try to defend our title.
“But as you know it’s not simple and sometimes you cannot always have the same ambition. But when I decided to sign a new contract, I decided to stay at this club and work very hard for this club.
“In this season, with my staff, I have worked more than last season. Because when you face difficulties, you must be prepared to work very hard to overcome these difficulties. I must be honest in this season the mountain to climb was very high, very high, very high, but, despite this, we finished to lift an important trophy like the FA Cup.
“Last season, despite our win in the league, we weren’t able to do this. We must be please because when you win in a difficult season like this, it means there is a great work behind, a great commitment of my players and then we will see.”