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Conte insists his touchline passion play is here to stay

Conte remains adamant about one thing: his extraordinarily animated touchline behaviour will never change.

Published: 26th October 2016 08:20 AM  |   Last Updated: 26th October 2016 08:20 AM   |  A+A-

Conte

Chelsea’s team manager Antonio Conte gestures during the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge stadium in London. | AP

By The Daily Telegraph

He has upset Jose Mourinho already this week and is now preparing for a match tonight that has put the Metropolitan Police on high alert, but Antonio Conte remains adamant about one thing: his extraordinarily animated touchline behaviour will never change. 

Indeed, having laughed at the suggestion that he might one day watch matches from the directors' box, he admitted yesterday with a straight face that he wanted a larger technical area at Stamford Bridge.
"It is two metres [wide] and, for me, it's very difficult," the Chelsea manager said. "I have to ask my club to try to change it." 

Conte will encounter the other extreme at West Ham tonight, with its running track circling the pitch and, amid warnings to fans about their behaviour and a pre-match alcohol ban, the Italian does not see any need to curb his touchline demeanour. And his message to the Chelsea fans was that he wanted their passionate support.

"Until now I always saw a fantastic atmosphere," he said. "One reason you want to work in England is for the atmosphere. They must think only to stay behind us and to push us to win. If they [the fans] want, we can play with 12 players." Perhaps even 13, as Conte himself clearly sees himself as part of the on-field team. "My way of living the game is always the same; I like to play the game with my players.

"Sometimes the players listen. In another situation they probably don't listen, so I shout more. I want to stay close with my players, to play with them. I live the game with great emotion and passion. But I always show respect for the opponent and my history shows this."

Mourinho, the Manchester United manager, may disagree, but Conte dismissed their spat on Sunday as "not important" and revealed that he could barely communicate with his players on Monday after shouting so much during the  4-0 win. "I am exhausted at the end of every game and it's difficult also to sleep," said Conte. "If we win, probably I have a 10 per cent chance to sleep. If we lose, I never have the probability to sleep." 

One decision that might soon keep him awake concerns his defence. Chelsea have registered three consecutive clean sheets with Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta playing in a back three, but the likely return tonight of John Terry after six weeks out presents fresh questions.

The clear indication from Conte yesterday was that Terry faced a massive challenge to win back his starting place in the Premier League, particularly as he seems only to regard the Chelsea captain as suitable to play at the centre of those three defenders.

"The two central defenders on the right and the left must be very fast and also be aggressive," said Conte. "The players that play in the middle of the three defenders must be more tactical and to reflect more to find the right position. They also call the line up and down.

"These last three games we did very well. If you have an injury during the season, it's important to have ready a good solution. For John, every day he shows me great attitude, behaviour and commitment. If John has this he can continue." 

Branislav Ivanovic returned to training yesterday, while Kurt Zouma played in an under-23 game. Some of the younger players, such as Nathaniel Chalobah, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Dominic Solanke, could be involved tonight.

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