Antonio Conte has told his Chelsea players they must share the responsibility for a troubled season.
The Blues won the Premier League and reached the FA Cup final in 2016-17, Conte’s first season as boss, and have won trophies with regularity despite a high turnover of managers.
There has been constant speculation this season over the Italian’s position, which will only increase if Chelsea fail to beat Leicester in the FA Cup on Sunday and then fall further adrift of the Premier League top-four by not beating Tottenham on April 1.
Conte says Chelsea must receive the plaudits and any flak as a collective.
“Like last season when we won the title and reached the final of the FA Cup, it’s always the same,” he said.
“We must be ready to share the responsibility with the club, the players and with me and my staff. This must be very clear.”
The Champions League exit to Barcelona on Wednesday means Chelsea’s final trophy chance this term is the FA Cup, which resumes with Sunday’s quarter-final at Leicester.
Chelsea are also fifth in the Premier League, four points behind fourth-placed Spurs with eight games remaining.
The next Premier League clash with Tottenham is crucial to Chelsea’s hopes of a top-four finish and qualifying for Europe’s elite competition next term.
“We have to try to do both,” Conte said.
“To try to reach the semi-final in the FA Cup it won’t be easy. Leicester is a good team. In the last game we played at home we suffered against them (drawing 0-0).
“Then to try to do our best also in the league, to find a place in the Champions League. It won’t be easy.”