Antonio Conte is having to endure a lot of criticism and pressure following Chelsea’s recent poor performances but he is not prepared to take it lying down.
Sunday was yet another disappointing day as a listless Chelsea side were consigned to a 1-0 defeat by table-topping Manchester City. It was their fourth defeat in five Premier League games but that was not even the saddest part of the story.
The defending champions did not have a single shot on target for the entire 90 mins. As a matter of fact, they only had two shots, both of which were well off the mark. No one knows the last time Chelsea posted such a dismal statistic because they didn’t start keeping track of such things till after 2004. What Opta was able to confirm is that indeed the Blues haven’t had such a dour game in all that time.
0 – Chelsea have failed to register a single shot in the first half of a Premier League game for the first time since 2003-04 (when we have this data available). Stifled.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 4, 2018
As can be expected, the pundits didn’t waste any time before pulling out the pitchforks on Conte and Chelsea. Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp was particularly vocal, branding the performance “a crime against football”. The former Liverpool man further argued that Chelsea, who defended incredibly deep and played without a recognised striker, should have just “given them the three points before the game started.”
Conte: “Use your head… I’m not stupid!”
Conte did not waste any time with niceties when replying. The Italian urged the pundit in question to “use his head”, understand the tactics of such a game and not “to speak in a stupid way”.
“I think you have to accept every criticism but I am not so stupid to play against Manchester City open and to lose 3-0 or 4-0,” the Chelsea boss told his post-match news conference (seek to 7:00 on the video below).
“If I remember well, two days ago, Arsenal played twice against them and then you criticised [Arsene] Wenger a lot because they conceded three goals in only 30 minutes. The pundit has to use the head to understand when you speak about tactics because I think you must have knowledge to speak about tactics and not only to speak in a stupid way.”
In a further defence of his bizarre tactics, the 48-year-old went on to explain that his aim was to deny City space in between the lines and behind the backline. As such he didn’t feel to blame for his men failing to register a single shot on target.
“If you give City space behind us, the game can finish not 1-0,” he added.
“It’s not good enough [the lack of shots on target] but this is the truth. I don’t think it was because of the tactics but the game was like this and we tried to do our best.”
The ailing champions have five days to convalesce and regroup before welcoming Crystal Palace to Stamford Bridge on Saturday. After then it’s off to Spain and Barcelona.