The Blues boss thinks that his opponents for Thursday have done well, but that you can’t compare their season to that of his side.
Burnley sit just eight points behind Chelsea with five Premier League games left to go as they battle for a Europa League spot, but Antonio Conte thinks that is more “simple” to be Burnley’s manager than to manage the defending champions.
Sean Dyche is likely to secure a top seven finish for Burnley this season which should be enough to see the club qualify for European competition for the first time in 51 years.
And Conte has been impressed with Dyche’s leadership but he insists that Burnley have been able to play without the pressure to win silverware, unlike his Chelsea side.
“He [Dyche] is doing an important job,” Conte told reporters. “I think that he is doing a great job in this season, but I think if you start the season to fight to avoid the relegation zone, it is more simple. It is more simple. Also if you have a small budget, because you count on a team that you [worked with] in the past.
“You then reach the qualification to play again in the Europa League. It is more difficult when you have to prepare the transfer market to win something, because only one team wins. The others must watch the other team win. I think it is more simple because you have to avoid the last three places at the bottom.
“Then you can stay between 10 teams that can play only for this target. And then, I repeat, if you have a good base and in the previous season you played very well, you can count on these players. You have to fight only to avoid this. It is difficult if you have to play to win because only one team wins and the other don’t win.
“Then you [the journalists] are the first to speak about a failed season, if you don’t win the FA Cup, the league, Carabao Cup, it is a failed season and for this reason it is more difficult to play for this target. In my life, my career I fought to avoid the relegation zone. I didn’t start with Juventus, I started with Arezzo, the bottom.
“It is not important [what I think about Chelsea’s season]. We have to finish our season, our job and then there [are people] who has to judge if the season is a failure or not. This is not my job.”
Chelsea saw Marcos Alonso as their only player included in the PFA Team of the Year, which was dominated by players from Premier League champions Manchester City.
Conte isn’t a fan of the team of the year and thinks that players outside of the top six clubs, like Burnley, should have been selected in the prize voted for by the players in English football’s top division.
“I didn’t read the team. Usually you have to wait to finish the season and then do this because with five games to go, to prepare this, I think it is not fair,” Conte added. “I think in this formation, you have to consider all the players from the whole [league], not only the best teams. As you said before, for sure there are Burnley players that deserve to stay in this top team.
“I don’t know if they picked Burnley’s players or not. [They made] two mistakes, [doing this] before you finish the season. You have to wait to finish the season to pick the best 11 players and then you must involve the players of the whole league. If Burnley stay in this position, it means the players of the whole team, many players, are performing very well and they deserve to stay in the top 11.”
Chelsea need to win every match to even hope of qualifying for the Champions League, with an eight point gap between them and their rivals Tottenham, meaning Conte must avoid losing once again to Burnley, as Chelsea did on the opening day, to remain close to Spurs. And he admits that the 3-2 defeat to Dyche’s side remains in his thoughts.
“I remember very well that game,” he continued. “If you remember after 10-15 minutes, we got a red card for [Gary] Cahill. We started to play this game with a guy [Jeremie Boga] that was then sent on loan in the Championship. We went 3-0 down then came back to 3-2, it was a strange game.
“They deserved to win. It was important to improve their confidence but they showed during the season that to play against Burnley is very tough, not simple.”