Antonio Conte set to remain as Chelsea boss despite poor form

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has found his position under the spotlight

Chelsea are unlikely to sack manager Antonio Conte following the 4-1 defeat at Watford on Monday night.

The defending champions slumped to a second successive Premier League loss, having seen Tiemoue Bakayoko sent off in the first half against the Hornets, which further increased the pressure on Italian coach Conte.

Press Association Sport understands that there was no board meeting to discuss the manager’s future and the club are not in talks with any potential replacements.

The players have, however, been given three days off before returning on Friday in the build-up to the home match against West Brom on February 12.

Speaking at Vicarage Road, where the home side scored three late goals after Eden Hazard’s fine 81st-minute strike looked to have rescued a draw, Conte remained defiant.

“I’m not worried about my job,” the Italian said, before signalling his intention to continue working to turn the team’s form around.

Conte arrived at Stamford Bridge during the summer of 2016 and swiftly led Chelsea to the Premier League title, winning 30 matches.

However, mounting a successful defence while also juggling the demands of a European campaign has proved testing, with Chelsea now some 19 points behind leaders Manchester City.

Yet despite having also lost 3-0 at home to Bournemouth last week, Chelsea remain in the top four of the Premier League, one point ahead of Tottenham.

Conte has also guided the Blues into the fifth round of the FA Cup, where they will be at home against Sky Bet Championship side Hull, while also soon getting set for a Champions League showdown with Barcelona.

Chelsea backed their manager, who still has 18 months of his contract to run, during the January transfer window by bringing in defender Emerson Palmieri from Roma and France forward Olivier Giroud from Arsenal.

With no fixture now until the home Premier League match against West Brom, the players have been given some time off to recharge batteries, with the plan for the squad to return fresh to work on Friday.

While there were meetings between various Chelsea board members on Tuesday, Press Association Sport understands they were non-football related, over other corporate and commercial issues, with the future of the manager not on the agenda. Owner Roman Abramovich was not present.

Some bookmakers have suspended betting on the Italian being sacked.

Former Barcelona boss Luis Enrique and Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone have both been linked with Conte’s job, but it is understood there are currently no discussions with any other potential managerial candidates.

Although the spotlight is very much on Conte’s future, Chelsea defender Gary Cahill maintains the squad needs to be held accountable for the “abysmal” performance against Watford.

“Whatever is decided, the players have to take responsibility. The manager has done an absolutely unbelievable job,” Cahill said, as quoted by the London Evening Standard.

“This is the worst I’ve felt for quite a while. Performance-wise, I didn’t recognise us or myself.

“It was abysmal. It hurts a lot when you come off after a performance like that.

“We just need to keep strong. I’ve been here before at this club – it’s about staying calm.”

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