Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has told players and supporters to “understand the reality” as the club prepare for a season of Europa League football.
Chelsea have won just three top-flight matches in 2018 and now face missing out on a place in the Champions League for the second time in three years.
Antonio Conte concedes that his side will likely be competing in UEFA’s secondary competition in 2018-19, but is optimistic of better things to come in the future.
“I think that for a club like Chelsea, it is important to play in the Champions League and to play in the Europa League. We must be realistic to understand the reality,” he told reporters ahead of the West Ham match.
“It was my prediction [that we would struggle] and I now stop. Maybe next season, I will have another prediction that is better than this [season’s prediction]. I think that you become stronger after a defeat. When you win, you don’t see the real problems.
“I think that when you don’t win, you have a lot of strength to try to change your situation, to try to have a good answer. During a defeat it makes you stronger than weaker. I think now is not the right moment to speak about this topic [of plans for next season].
“The most important thing for us is to finish the season in the best possible way. To focus on the present and to go game-by-game. Then, if we arrive at the right moment, we will speak about the future.”