A defiant Antonio Conte insisted he expects to remain Chelsea boss next season despite failing to qualify for the Champions League.
The Blues, who face Manchester United in the FA Cup final at Wembley next Saturday, saw their faint hopes of overhauling fourth-placed Liverpool on the final day of the Premier League season go up in smoke courtesy of a 3-0 defeat at Newcastle.
Speculation is rife that Conte will leave Stamford Bridge this summer, but asked if the final will be his last game in charge, he replied: “Do you think so? You have the news?
“No, I don’t think so. For this season, for sure. Now we have to play the last game in the FA Cup and then, as you know very well because I am repeating always the same thing, I am committed to this club.
“For me, this is important, not speculation around me. It’s not important. The most important thing is what the club thinks, not you or the speculation about me.
“I have a contract and the club know very well the situation. After Saturday, we go on vacation and then we will see next season.”
The deposed champions needed to win at St James’ Park and Liverpool to lose at home to Brighton if they were to snatch a top-four finish, but Dwight Gayle’s header and an Ayoze Perez double, coupled with a 4-0 home win at Anfield, put paid to their hopes.
Asked to assess the damage, Conte said: “I think I’m the last person to speak about this. You can ask the club what is the damage to finish out of the Champions League.
“I have worked with my players this season and I think it’s not right to say something about this because there are other people to judge our season and judge the problem of finishing out of the Champions League.
“There was a great frustration because in our minds, we had the will to finish the season in the best possible way and instead from the start, we didn’t show the right will to finish the season in the best possible way.
“Newcastle outplayed us and they deserved to win. But I’m the first person to answer for this.”