MANCHESTER (Reuters) - Chelsea manager Antonio Conte said he was to blame for his team’s 2-0 loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford on Sunday, saying he had failed to motivate his players enough.
Chelsea’s second loss in four games has reopened the title race, offering hope to second-placed Tottenham who are just four points behind with six games to go.
“We didn’t play a good game and United deserved to win the game. They showed more desire, more ambition, more motivation,” said Conte.
“It is very simple but in this case the fault is of the coach. It means the coach was not able to transfer the right concentration, desire, ambition to win this game,” added the Italian.
Chelsea failed to have a single shot on target in a Premier League game for the first time since another 2-0 loss to United in September 2007.
The former Juventus coach said he was not worried about the pressure mounting over the final six games, however.
”The pressure is normal. I prefer to play for the title instead of not fighting for the title and being calm.
”We are lucky to have the pressure. Last season Chelsea had no pressure in 10th place and you play calm, you are happy.
”We must understand this, that (something) really important is happening this season because we are doing a great job and a miracle if you consider last season and the problems we had.
“For this reason we must have great enthusiasm to play these last six games. Be patient and have great will to fight... otherwise we must clap another team,” he added.
Chelsea’s April 1 home defeat to Crystal Palace was followed by wins over Manchester City and Bournemouth that eased concerns of a late-season slump.
Now, the defeat at Old Trafford, combined with Tottenham’s strong form, including 12 straight home wins, means some nerves may be jangling at Stamford Bridge.
“We lost two games but these two games were totally different. Against Crystal Palace we didn’t deserve to lose. Today we deserved to lose the game,” said Conte.
“We have to think that there are six finals from now until the end of the season. The league is open and we have a 50 percent (probability) to win the league. We will (have to) be good to finish on top of the table and it (would also) mean we deserve it. Otherwise we deserve another thing”.
Editing by Clare Fallon