Antonio Conte hits back at 'stupid' Redknapp and Neville after duo's scathing Chelsea criticism
Antonio Conte hit back at "stupid" Gary Neville and Jamie Redknapp after the Sky Sports duo criticised Chelsea's gameplan during their 1-0 defeat at Manchester City.
Redknapp said that Chelsea's limp, toothless performance was a "crime against football" while Gary Neville offered similarly withering words, blasting the champions as "woeful and embarrassing" before stating they were acting like "mannequins."
However, the Italian was having none of it. Clearly influenced by Arsenal being handed a couple of 3-0 thumpings in the past week, Conte decided to adopt the same policy of containment and sitting deep that had worked well against Barcelona.
"I think in this moment you have to accept every criticism but I am not so stupid to play against Manchester City open and to lose 3-0 or 4-0,” the Chelsea manager said.
“If I remember well, a few days ago, Arsenal played twice against them and then you criticise a lot [Arsene] Wenger because they conceded three goals in only 30 minutes. I think the pundit has to use their heads to understand when you speak about tactics because I think you must have knowledge to speak about tactics and not only to speak in a stupid way.”
“We prepared the game in this way - don’t concede space between the lines. When you play against City you have to use your brain, otherwise you risk to finish the game in a bad way and to lose 3-0 or 4-0. I think we tried to not concede the space for a long part of the match and that was good. For sure to concede the goal after 30 seconds of the second half was a pity because then it was very difficult for us to come back.”
WATCH: "That was anti-football. That was a crime against football what they did today." 👮🚓🚨
Were @ChelseaFC too negative against @ManCity today?
Jamie Redknapp says Chelsea's performance at Man City was a 'crime against football': https://t.co/cHBeFqX2fH pic.twitter.com/P0dTFjcBSp
— Sky Sports Premier League (@SkySportsPL) March 4, 2018
While there is nothing wrong with looking to sit deep against Manchester City, Chelsea's utter lack of enthusiasm was as alarming as their regression from their performance away to City last season, when they won 3-1 in impressive fashion.
Neville's main issue was Chelsea's lack of intent and he certainly wasn't wrong. Soon after the final whistle, a video of Chelsea players literally walking around as City stroked the ball to each other with minimal fuss went viral. It was damning evidence and even led some people to suggest that it offered evidence that Conte has lost the dressing room.
However, it was difficult to argue with Neville's criticism, stinging as it may have been.
"I think Chelsea have given us an unacceptable 90 minutes there. It was awful. Yes, you want to come to Manchester City and make sure you're compact to stop Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva. You want to make you leave the ball to the centre backs and the full-backs - and they did all that.
"In terms of the approach, it wasn't bad - it was the lack of intent and passing of the performance which was so passive that made it difficult to watch. The Chelsea hierarchy have been clinical and brutal in the past - the second season for Chelsea managers are notoriously difficult after they've won a league. What we're starting to see is typical Chelsea.
"If they get knocked out of the Champions League then you could see this ending quite quickly for Antonio Conte, who has done a brilliant job at the club."