Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has claimed that the blame for his side's 3-0 Premier League thrashing against Newcastle United lies with him, after the Blues' loss (combined with Liverpool's win over Brighton) confirmed their failure to qualify for next season's Champions League.
Speaking in the wake of the heavy defeat, via Sky Sports, the Italian manager contended he should be held accountable for his side's performance, stating: "When you are at the end of the season, it [a big defeat] can happen, but when there is this situation, the first person to answer for this is the coach.
"If we didn't have the spirit, this will, this desire, I am the first person to answer for this. The other team was more determined than us.
"As I said before, the situation wasn't in our hands, and it was very difficult to try to take a place in the Champions League. One month ago we had ten points less than Tottenham and Liverpool, with six games to go, it was very difficult to take a place in the Champions League."
Discussing the details of the match, Conte said: "I think our start wasn't good, and we suffered from the start.
"Newcastle looked more determined than us, for sure we didn't lose the Champions League on the last two games, because the chances were zero, but to finish this season this way is no good, no good for the players, no good for the fans."
Newcastle took the lead midway through the first half, as Dwight Gayle capitalised on Thibaut Courtois' blunder to stab home from close range. With the Blues unable to break down the Magpies' stubborn defence, the hosts scored a quick fire double in the second half to assure the win, with Ayoze Pérez's impressive brace sealing the win for Rafaél Benítez's side.
Chelsea will now look to regroup and prepare for next weekend's FA Cup final clash against Manchester United, where Conte will have a chance to give his fans something to cheer about to end the campaign.
It is still unclear whether the former Juventus coach will remain at the club, with his future likely to be decided within the next few weeks.