Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte
Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte

Win or you’re sacked: Blues set Conte axe time frame

CHELSEA manager Antonio Conte could be just one defeat away from being sacked by the club, according to the Express.

The Blues face Watford on Tuesday morning (AEST), with reports emanating to suggest that a failure to collect three points from the fixture could spell the end of the Italian's reign at Stamford Bridge.

Conte led the club to a Premier League title just last season, but a run of poor results coupled with a rift with the board and ownership could cost the 48-year-old his job.

Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte
Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte

It is widely believed that the ex-Juventus manager will leave the club at the end of the season; however history shows that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich isn't afraid to wield the axe.

Conte is the Londoners' 11th manager since 2007 and with his side 19 points off the pace set by Manchester City and in danger of missing out on next season's Champions League, they could soon have a 12th.

Conte has been linked with a return to Italy as national team boss, however recently clarified his intentions in regard to his future.

"My intention, my will, my desire is to respect this contract," Conte said.

A range of managers, including ex-Barcelona boss Luis Enrique and current Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri, have been linked as potential successors to Conte.

Napoli's Italian coach Maurizo Sarri
Napoli's Italian coach Maurizo Sarri

Those names have been joined by Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri, with the latest reports suggesting the Blues are preparing to pay the Naples boss' release clause.

La Gazetta dello Sport report that Sarri has an AU$12m clause, which Abramovich is seriously considering activating.

With his future under immense doubt, The Telegraph allege that Conte has told Chelsea that they'll need to make two or three truly world class signings if they're to trump City for the Premier League title next season.

The manager cited the signing of too many players in recent transfer windows as the reason behind a lack of "foundation" in the first team.

Speaking ahead of his potentially last game in charge at Stamford Bridge, Conte commented on what his side need to do to catch runaway leaders City.

"Now we have to struggle to fight for a Champions League place - that is top. We must be realistic. We must be strong to accept this type of situation," Conte said.

"Then, in the future, if there is the possibility, you have to try to buy only two or three players - not eight players. Don't forget, this summer, we brought in eight players and spent a lot less than other teams who bought only two or three."

"We have to create a basis; we have to build something important. To do this, you must have 15 or 16 players. In the summer, we changed eight players. That means you don't have a basis, a great foundation. We must have great patience to understand the moment."

"We lost strong, experienced players in the last few years, so we must have patience to understand that, now, we have to appreciate the moment, be realistic, create a basis and then build something important to face big challenges with the other teams."

Chelsea take on Watford at Vicarage Road on Tuesday morning (AEST).

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