Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has insisted that he has every intention of honouring his contract at Stamford Bridge, despite ongoing speculation about his future.
Rumours have circulated in recent weeks and months that Conte may not be at Chelsea for much longer. The speculation initially centred on his own reservations and possible resignation, but have since moved on to suggestions of a sacking when the club is knocked out of Europe.
The Italian, who guided Chelsea to the Premier League title in record breaking fashion last season - most wins in a 38-game campaign, believes he deserves more respect and has declared he will be going nowhere before his contract expires in June 2019.
"Every day there is speculation about my future. It's not right because I think I deserve a bit of respect for what I did last season, for what I am doing this season," Conte is quoted as saying by the Daily Telegraph.
"To read every week: 'Next season the club contacts this coach or this coach' - for me this is not a problem. But it can create problems with the players because the players believe we could [drift] apart," he explained.
"I have another year on my contract, so in this moment my focus is total, to improve my players, to try to improve the team, to try to improve the club."
Chelsea remain third in the Premier League after securing a narrow win over Southampton at the weekend. But they, like everyone else this season, are playing catch up on Manchester City.
Things have been a little tougher for the champions this season, not least with European football back on the schedule, while there has also been an effort to reduce the age of the team so as to better prepare for the immediate future.
"I think last season we did a fantastic job but this job is continuing this season," Conte said.
"We are trying to change the average age of our team. I think for a club like Chelsea it is very important to start to do this, if you want to create a new base and face the future with confidence."