Antonio Conte has fired a warning shot across the bow of his Chelsea players after suffering a disappointing pre-season friendly defeat by Rapid Vienna on his debut as manager.
The Italian took to the dug-out for the first time as Blues boss as a strong line-up including Diego Costa, Willian, Nemanja Matic and captain John Terry succumbed in the Austrian capital on Saturday.
Joelinton gave Rapid an eighth-minute lead before Tomi Correa scored a second with nine minutes remaining as Costa and youngster Ola Aina conspired to spurn guilt-edged chances.
Speaking at full-time, Conte said: “I always give education and respect but I demand the same, for all the people that work with me. I give them this and I demand this,” he said.
“This was taught to me by my family, to give education and respect to all people. If I don’t have this, you are asking for trouble, for a problem.
“I love to be with my players, to speak with them, to help them to understand my philosophy, my methods and my thoughts. I love this. Hopefully when the players understand this we have a fantastic relationship.”
Conte was more positive about the prospects of Eden Hazard, however, after the Belgium international’s mixed fortunes under Jose Mourinho and Guss Hiddink at Stamford Bridge last season
Hazard was crowned PFA Player of the Year in 2015 but a dip in form the following season has seen his stock, and interest in his signature, dwindle considerably as Chelsea finished 10th in the Premier League.
“Last season was very bad for the players,” Conte added. “It is incredible that Chelsea finished 10th.
“When you have great players in a team with great character, and Hazard is one of them, the expectation can be very high. It is important for us to get Hazard back to his best condition, technically, physically and mentally.
“I spoke with him and I am very happy to train a fantastic player like him. Chelsea have players with great talent, who can become top, top, top players.
“At the moment the world doesn’t think they’re at the same level as (Lionel) Messi or (Cristiano) Ronaldo or Neymar. But there are players that can reach this level, I’m sure.