Antonio Conte is in no immediate danger of being sacked in the wake of Chelsea’s humiliating 4-1 defeat against Watford on Monday, according to sources.
A second limp performance and lopsided scoreline at Vicarage Road, following a 3-0 loss at home to Bournemouth on Wednesday, left Conte’s future as head coach in serious doubt.
But while there is grave concern at Chelsea’s slump in form since the turn of the year — they have won just two of 10 matches in all competitions in 2018, failing to score on four occasions — the club hierarchy will only intervene if it becomes clear that a top-four finish in the Premier League is in jeopardy.
Losing to Watford has left Chelsea fourth after 26 matches — one point behind Liverpool and one point ahead of Tottenham Hotspur.
Sources told ESPN FC on Tuesday that Conte has given his Chelsea players three days off to rest, with the team not in action again until West Bromwich Albion visit Stamford Bridge next Monday.
Conte and several of his players have admitted in recent weeks that they are struggling to cope with the demands of a gruelling and, at times, unfavourable schedule that required Chelsea to play nine games in December and nine more in January.
The cost has been felt in the form of an untimely wave of injuries. Andreas Christensen limped out of the Bournemouth defeat with a hamstring problem, while Ross Barkley missed the Watford match with a similar issue picked up in training. There remains no timeframe for Alvaro Morata to return from lingering back pain.
Speaking after the Watford loss, Conte reiterated that he is not concerned by the possibility of losing his job.
“I’m not worried about my job,” Conte said. “I work every day and I give 120 percent, OK? If this is enough, it’s OK. Otherwise, the club can take a different decision. But I’m not worried.
“It’s very difficult because, every day and every press conference, you ask me if I’m worried. No. I’m not worried. Tomorrow is another day. I can be the Chelsea coach or not. Which is the problem? My soul is clear. I go to sleep without a problem that maybe, maybe, I could do this or that. I try to do everything. If it’s not good, the club can make a different decision. Life goes on.”
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