Antonio Conte admits that because his English is not yet at the level he would want, he still finds it difficult to motivate his players with words, but they have now made it a lot easier. They have brought it down to numbers.
Specifically, the number six. The countdown is on. After defeating Manchester City 2-1, Chelsea just have to win six games to win the title.
“In Italy, for me, honestly, it was easier to find the right words to motivate my players,” Conte said. “Here, I’m studying English but I’m not at a great level to give motivational talks. But I try. I push sometimes with words, sometimes with my hands. Numbers now… six wins. Six wins.”
Conte said he was unaware of what was happening with Tottenham, as they scored three times at Swansea City late on to win 3-1, a result that could have made things much more pressurised for Chelsea had there been a late City goal at Stamford Bridge. Instead, it merely allowed him to preach the same message to his players: to concentrate on what they do.
“No,” he said when asked whether he knew the Spurs score, “but first of all I think it's better to look at ourselves. Not see the other. Tottenham's result is important, but the most important results is ours. We have to continue to think like this. The best way is to think that Tottenham could win eight games. I think this. For this reason, to win the title, we need 18 more points. This is the best way for us [to think].
“A big win for us. It wasn't easy. But when you play against City, it's normal to suffer in some parts of the game. But I think we suffered as a team in the right way. The first half was very open, chances for one side and then the other. Usually I don't like this happening. In the second half we defended very well, with good balance.
"It was a good win for us, above all because you played after a bad defeat against Crystal Palace where I think we didn't deserve to lose. At this part of the season it's not easy because the pressure is very high. To drop points at this moment would not have been good because you give hope to your opponents.”
“We will remember this season if we win [the title]. If we do not win after a season... Only if you win do you write it in history. When there is the possibility to send a message to the players [I do], but these players don't need me to give them this message. They know very well the situation.
"The only message I have given them is that Tottenham must win eight games. So we must make six wins and take 18 points. If we do this, we will win the title. If we don't do that, it will have been a good season, but not a 'good' season.”
It will now only take six wins.