Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has insisted that the growing speculation surrounding his potentially uncertain future at the club is not affecting his players, claiming it would have been the case from the opening day of the season if that were true.
Rumours of further friction between Conte and Chelsea officials have gained even more traction since the end of a disappointing January transfer window and the reigning champions have lost back-to-back Premier League games against Bournemouth and Watford.
The Italian recently warned it would be 'stupid' of the club to sack him and believes that recent results are not down to gossip about his allegedly imminent dismissal.
"Honestly I don't think talk about my future can affect the players. Otherwise from the first game we lost against Burnley, it could happen," Conte is quoted as saying by Sky Sports ahead of Monday night's critical must-win game against West Brom.
"I think my players are getting used to these rumours, to this speculation, but for sure I am very happy with the commitment of my players, the behaviour of my players because they show me every day they want to overcome this situation," he added.
Conte is also keen to point out what Chelsea have achieved this season, despite the perceived 'crisis' at Stamford Bridge.
"We are talking about a team that is fourth in the league [before the start of the weekend fixtures], is preparing to face the game against Barcelona, we are in the FA Cup competition and we reached the semi-final of the Carabao Cup," he explained.
"I think maybe [the media] have to find more balance but I understand we have to live with this pressure, and it is okay for me and for my players."