Antonio Conte started his press conference ahead of Spurs FA Cup semifinal giving his condolences to Ugo Ehiogu‘s family after the Tottenham coach passed away this morning.
The Italian manager seemed very touched by this sudden tragedy and added:
“When this kind of situations happen football is not important, it’s not easy to speak about this, this situation hits everyone of us, for sure tomorrow there will be a strange atmosphere.
“It’s a pity, because he was very young, only 44, in these situations you start to think about many things, not good things, we are very sad for this, we can remember him tomorrow, it’s the least we can do.”
About Gary Cahill’s illness, he said:
“For sure this period it’s not lucky for us. When we started to train back on Tuesday he arrived with a bit of fever and our doctor preferred to bring him to the hospital to check his condition, now he’s getting better, but for tomorrow he’s a doubt. His problem was that he got gastroenteritis, but we are controlling the situation.”
Due to Cahill’s illness, Conte could be forced to choose another defender in the three back and John Terry can be a possible candidate:
“This is a semifinal, in this season we tried to have two options in every position, John’s position is in the middle in the 3 back, usually where David Luiz play, I have to think for tomorrow, we have different solutions.”
On John Terry leaving Chelsea at the end of this season he said:
“John has been very important for me in this season, he’s helping me on the pitch and off the pitch, he’s a great captain for us. He wants to play regularly and we have to respect his decision, I was a footballer and I know that when you arrive at this point of your career and your body tells you you can continue to play, you have to do it, your body tells you when it’s over. I think it will be a big loss for next season, for the changing room, in this moment his loss is very important.”
Thibaut Courtois skipped Manchester United‘s clash after an ankle injury he picked up during a commercial shoot, but it seems the Belgian keeper will be able to play tomorrow:
“He recovered for his injury and trained with us in this week, this is the most important thing.
“I spoke about what happened with the club, I keep secret what we said, commercial is an important part for the club, we have to find the right solution.”
Diego Costa apparently received a new huge offer from a Chinese side:
“The most important thing for us it’s to be focused on the present,” Conte replied.
“We have to keep the concentration, we have to finish in a great way, I hope we do something extraordinary. This moment is very important for the club because we’re building foundations, we’re doing a great job together.”
Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino claimed that his side are still underdogs, but Conte tried to put some pressure on them claiming this is not the truth:
“They have to finish to consider themselves underdogs, they are a great power in English football now, they are a great team, it’s the second consecutive year they fight for the title. They are building something important, there is a moment where you have to finish to consider yourself an underdogs, this the right moment.”
Asked if a win or defeat tomorrow can affect the title race, Conte replied:
“FA Cup and Premier League are very different competitions, if one team win or lose doesn’t affect title race.”
Asked if he wanted to win a double in his first season at Chelsea and in England like his fellow-Italian manager Carlo Ancelotti, he replied:
“Of course we aim to the double, but my situation it’s very different from the Ancelotti’s one. He had the foundation, we’re building them.”
Asked if it will be more difficult to play in a neutral venue like Wembley, he replied:
“I don’t know about this, to play in your stadium of course it’s an advantage, for us it’s the same, it’s different play Wembley and Stamford Bridge, the same it’s for Tottenham. You feel you play in your house, and the opponent feel the same when they come to your house.”
After John Terry’s departure in the end of the season Chelsea will have to find another leader in the dressing room and that will a tough job:
“It’s not easy. Don’t forget this season some very important players for this team, people that made history here, like Ivanovic or Mikel, left and the next season also John Terry will be gone.
“It’s not easy to find the right replacement, for this season I say we are starting to build something important, now we have to find together the right players to replace these players and write again the history for this club. It’s not easy, people have to understand this.”