Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Conte ‘not stupid’ enough to open up against City

Conte ‘not stupid’ enough to open up against City

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte (centre) gestures as Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola (right) looks on in their English Premier League match on Sunday. AFP
Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte (centre) gestures as Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola (right) looks on in their English Premier League match on Sunday. AFP

Conte ‘not stupid’ enough to open up against City

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte defended his cautious approach despite his side failing to register a shot on target as they went down 1-0 to Premier League champions-elect Manchester City.

The Italian’s tactics were lambasted by pundits and Chelsea fans alike as he started without a recognised striker by leaving club-record signing Alvaro Morata and Olivier Giroud on the bench.

City moved 18 points clear at the top of the table, and 25 ahead of Chelsea in fifth, as Bernardo Silva’s goal 35 seconds into the second half broke the visitors’ resistance.

However, Conte claimed it would be “stupid” to open up against the runaway league leaders, citing criticism of Arsenal’s back-to-back 3-0 defeats to City in the League Cup final and Premier League in the past week.

“I’m not so stupid to play against Man City open and lose 3-0 or 4-0,” said Conte.

“If I remember well, Arsenal three days ago played against them and you criticise [Arsene] Wenger because they concede three goals.

“I think the pundit has to use the head when you speak tactics because you must have the knowledge to speak about tactics.”

Chelsea, though, had no response after going behind as Conte waited until 12 minutes from time to introduce Giroud, whilst Morata wasn’t brought on until the final minute when he replaced Chelsea’s top scorer Eden Hazard.

The Belgian ploughed a lonely furrow as an auxiliary central forward, but had no impact on the game before trudging off with his head bowed to make way for Morata.

“I try to wait because the [Morata] substitution was with [Eden] Hazard and you hope until the end that a player like Hazard can invent something in the game,” added Conte.

A fourth defeat in five Premier League games leaves Chelsea’s ambitions of Champions League football next season in serious peril.

Conte’s men now trail Tottenham Hotspur in fourth by five points.

‘No regrets’

However, the former Juventus boss insisted it wasn’t his side’s performance at the Etihad that will come back to haunt them if they fail to make the top four.

“We must have a big regret for the defeat against Bournemouth, Watford, [Manchester] United, but I don’t think today because today we played against a team that is showing to be a strong team,” he said.

“Today they showed the difference between them and us in this moment. Twenty-five points is a big gap and I think that we can have a regret for the other games but not for this.”

City boss Pep Guardiola wouldn’t be drawn on Chelsea’s tactics as his side registered 902 passes – the most of any team in a Premier League game for 14 years.

However, he hailed the standards set by his players.

“In all aspects we were better. We make an amazing high pressing, they could not contact with Hazard, Willian or Pedro [Rodriguez].

“We didn’t concede one shot on target, we create enough chances to win, and I think we made an amazing performance because [it] is against Chelsea, the last champion.”

Guardiola admitted even he has been surprised by the extent of City’s dominance this season, but insisted it is to their credit rather than the other contenders falling away.

“To have the distance from five or six contenders: 25 to Chelsea; 33 for Arsenal; United [on Monday are] going to play; 20 to Tottenham – in March it is a lot.

“I think Tottenham, Liverpool, United even, they make good results but we were so good so far.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Ministry requests school opening

    The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Thursday said it would request a decision from Prime Minister Hun Sen to allow a small number of schools to reopen next month. Ministry spokesman Ros Soveacha said if the request is granted, higher-standard schools will reopen

  • Kingdom eyes India FTA, China deal set for August

    Cambodia is studying the possibility of establishing a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) with India to open a new market with the second-largest regional economy. This comes as an FTA with China is scheduled to be signed next month while similar negotiations with South Korea

  • Judge lands in court after crashing into alleged thief

    Sen Sok district police on Thursday sent a Koh Kong Provincial Court judge to the Phnom Penh Municipal Court on manslaughter charges after he crashed his car into a woman riding a motorbike on Wednesday, killing her. District police chief Hour Meng Vang told The

  • Preah Vihear court drops charges against villagers

    The Preah Vihear Provincial Court has dropped all charges against eight ethnic Kuoy villagers who were in a land dispute with the Hengfu Group Sugar Industry Co Ltd since 2014. Wednesday’s decision was made by the judge who tried the case on June 10. The eight

  • Gov’t to boost Siem Reap tourism

    The Ministry of Tourism released the results of an inter-ministerial committee meeting concerning Siem Reap province’s Tourism Development Master Plan for 2020-2035 on Wednesday, revealing the government’s plan to improve the overall tourist landscape there. The meeting was attended by Minister of Tourism

  • Residents ordered to remove structures on Phnom Penh’s canal

    Phnom Penh municipal governor Khuong Sreng has ordered authorities to act against the perpetrators who built houses along the Luo 5 canal in Meanchey district. The municipal administration plans to create a committee to solve the matter. The order was given on Wednesday while Sreng led

  • ‘On the offensive’: Cambodia to load up on loans to stimulate economy

    As the dust settles on the economy, Cambodia comes to grips with what needs to be done to turn the economy around, starting with a big shopping list for credit ‘We are going on the offensive,” Vongsey Vissoth, Ministry of Economy and Finance permanent secretary

  • Eighty replacement peacekeepers set for Mali mission despite Covid

    Eighty Cambodian blue helmet soldiers who completed the peacekeeping mission under the UN umbrella in Mali will return to Cambodia on Friday, said the Centre for Peacekeeping Forces spokeswoman Kosal Malida. “To protect their families and communities from the Covid-19 pandemic, the 80 are required to

  • Government set to make up for cancelled April holiday

    The government is set to make up for a five-day Khmer New Year holiday late this month or early next month. The holiday was earlier cancelled due to the onset of Covid-19. The announcement is expected on Friday as the government is studying a range

  • Families told to register for cash handouts

    The government has called on poor families to apply to commune authorities for evaluation to receive financial support during the Covid-19 crisis. A $300 million budget has been planned for implementation within a year. Ministry of Economy and Finance secretary of state Vongsey Visoth said this