LONDON (Reuters) - Antonio Conte says he has not even considered the possibility of leaving Premier League champions Chelsea despite the increasing speculation over his future brought on by a dismal slump in form.
The former Juventus coach won the league title at the first attempt last season but his side have failed to keep pace with runaway leaders Manchester City this time around.
A 4-1 hammering at Watford last week, following a 3-0 home loss to Bournemouth, means Chelsea are 19 points adrift of City and could be outside the top four by the time they kick off against bottom club West Bromwich Albion on Monday.
“I am not thinking for only one moment about the possibility to go away from this club,” Conte told a news conference on Friday. “My commitment and that of my players is totally for this club. We are doing our best.”
He conceded, however, that winning the title is no guarantee of longevity in a job these days, especially at a club not averse to removing trophy-winning managers.
“A lot of the time the manager’s future depends on the results. For this reason we have to pay great attention,” he said. “Watford was a bad game for us, it can happen, but we must make sure it only happens once.”
Fourth-placed Chelsea have won only two of their last 10 games in all competitions, plus a penalty shoot-out defeat of second-tier side Norwich City in the FA Cup third round. While a home match against a West Brom side with only one league win since August looks like a home banker, Conte urged caution.
“You have to try to stop this bad run and to try to get three points against West Brom,” the Italian said.
“But it won’t be easy because in this type of situation the confidence is not high. We must trust in our football.”
Olivier Giroud, signed from Arsenal in the transfer window, could make his first start after a substitute appearance against Watford, but fellow striker Alvaro Morata remains sidelined with no return imminent, according to Conte.
“We are facing a serious situation. Players like Morata that are important for us are missing for a long time. We are trying to find a solution to solve the pain in his back,” he added.
Reporting by Martyn Herman; Editing by Christian Radnedge