Antonio Conte spoke to the gathered media at the pre-match press conference ahead of tomorrow night’s match at home to Roma in Serie A and began by praising tomorrow’s opposition.
“Roma are on an excellent run of form. Over the summer, players were brought in to give a response, just like the coach. I congratulate them. It’s a game of very high difficulty, we must think about our own path. We need to be clinical in our finishing,” he said.
Conte was then asked on Lautaro Martinez’s fine form.
“When people are talking too much about individuals, I never like it. I want to talk about the team. Lautaro is improving and growing, but I’d like to underline the whole group’s work.
“We must try to improve our knowledge about what kind of football we are playing. We can certainly grow in both phases of the game. A series of situations has led to us pushing even harder, but we will have to keep doing it until the last game of the season, crushing the accelerator.”
He then spoke on his opposite number at Roma in Paulo Fonseca.
“Fonseca is proving to be a very good coach: the Italian league is very tactical, a period of adaptation is needed but he is carrying out his idea, adapting himself.
“He is demonstrating his qualities after his time in Ukraine. You have to settle in here, your opponents study you and prepare very well to stop you. He brought an idea and modelled it for this League.
“Roma deserve compliments, they have a competitive organisation made up by experienced players and very interesting talents.”
Conte went on to discuss what the team need to do between now and the winter break.
“We will try to get to Christmas in the best possible state. After the break we will try to recover many of the players who are missing through injury. We try to stay focused and move forward game after game and we even cross our fingers.”
He was then asked about the many injuries that he is having to deal with.
“This is not a new situation for us, we are facing it in the right way. When in difficulties, many players have taken on the responsibility. There are still four games left of this period, we will do it with our chests out, knowing what our strengths and weaknesses are. No time to cry and hide. We must do our best.”
Next he was quizzed on whether he might deploy Asamoah or Candreva in the midfield due to what the journalist described as an ’emergency situation’ in the midfield.
“I did not speak of an emergency in midfield, you said it. Asamoah was born as a midfielder, I moulded him to become a full back when he arrived at Juventus from Udinese. If it comes to it, he will be more likely to do it than Candreva.”
Matteo Politano has drawn links with moves elsewhere but Conte went on to insist that he is very much part of the team.
“An ankle injury has kept him out for a few weeks. He is a player who has different characteristics to the others in the squad, he is good at one-on-one situations. If needed, he can play very well as a striker.
“He is a player certainly under consideration but it is inevitable that when I have a certain number of players at my disposal I always have to look at what is best for the team.”
In conclusion he was asked if he has any regrets about letting Radja Nainggolan depart.
“I have great affection for Nainggolan, I wanted to bring him to Chelsea and he knows it very well. I think the best choice for him was to go to Cagliari.
“In many situations we must always make a deep analysis and understand where we can do better and if there is something that could possibly be revised. I am very happy and I had no doubt that he would do well in Cagliari.”