Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte has warned his players against complacency, asserting that they will have to churn out consistent performances in order to stage a successful defence of their Barclays Premier League (BPL) title next season.
Speaking to reporters on Saturday evening, Conte held out the example of his predecessor Jose Mourinho, who won the league with Chelsea in the 2014-15 season but was sacked the following season when the club was battling relegation at the 16th place.
Chelsea ultimately staved off the ignominy of being consigned to the lower divisions, finishing the 2015-16 season at a lowly 10th place. Conte, who took over the reins at Chealsea at the start of the 2016-17 season, urged his players to learn lessons from that experience and avoid a repeat.
"Two years ago Chelsea finished 10th, that cannot happen again," Conte said after a 1-2 defeat by Italian football club Inter Milan in the International Champions Cup (ICC), a pre-season tournament also involving Arsenal and Bayern Munich.
"We know the difficulty of the next season and for sure we want to avoid the 'Mourinho season' with Chelsea. Two years ago the team ended the league in 10th place and we want to try to avoid this," he said.
"The coaches of the previous two (EPL) champions (Chelsea and Leicester) both lost their jobs and we are working very well to find the best solutions and use them. We have a lot of young players and it is necessary to try and develop them," the 47-year-old former Juventus coach was quoted saying by the British media.
Chelsea mixed results in the pre-season matches, defeating bitter London rivals Arsenal 3-0 before losing to Bayern and Inter.
Conte however, expressed satisfaction with his team's performance although he admitted that playing back-to-back matches against strong teams like Bayern and Inter has been taxing on the players.
"We played against two strong teams in Bayern Munich and Inter Milan in a period that is very important as we are working very hard," the former Italy defender said.
"To play three games with the same players means you finish and are tired. We are tired, very tired." said Chelsea manger Conte.