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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 22 June 2018

Conte committed to Chelsea after Fabregas goal lifts Premier League champions to win

Following 2-0 victory over Everton, manager says his focus is less on strengthening squad than improving performances on pitch.

Cesc Fabregas scored Chelsea's first goal in the 27th minute. Julian Finney / Getty Images
Cesc Fabregas scored Chelsea's first goal in the 27th minute. Julian Finney / Getty Images

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte reiterated his commitment to the Premier League champions after Sunday's 2-0 win over Everton.

The Italian belatedly signed an improved contract, but not an extension, in July and there have been persistent murmurs of behind-the-scenes friction.

Conte has spoken of the need to add to his thin squad, but he is adamant he will not walk out if Chelsea fall short of recruiting the players he wants before Thursday's transfer deadline.

"I'm totally committed to the club," Conte said. "I'm a coach, I'm not a manager. The best of my work is on the pitch, to try to improve my players, to try to improve my team.

"Then when you want to strengthen your squad you have to give your opinion and speak with your club.

"But then the club go to the transfer market and try to solve the situation, try to help us.

"Sometimes it's possible, sometimes it's not possible. I must be focused on the pitch."

Cesc Fabregas and Alvaro Morata scored in a performance in which Chelsea showed their title-winning pedigree, while Everton appeared fatigued by a week which included Monday's draw at Manchester City and Thursday's Europa League play-off victory at Hajduk Split.

Conte is leaving recruitment to others - chiefly director Marina Granovskaia and technical director Michael Emenalo - but insisted it was necessary as there are seven games next month, following the international break.

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"When we restart next month we have to play seven games. I need to rotate my players," Conte added.

Fabregas returned from suspension to put in an influential performance, but Conte demands more defensively, where N'Golo Kante is the example to follow.

"He scored an important goal for us," Conte said of Fabregas. "Now he's trying also to improve the defensive situations to try and be more strong, to try and be a bit like N'Golo. But he has to work [on that].

"And N'Golo has to work to become like Cesc with the ball."

The opening day loss to Burnley was a reality check from which Chelsea have responded with wins over Tottenham and now Everton.

"That game helped us to understand that this season will be very, very difficult," Conte said. "We need to have always great concentration, great focus, to start the game in the right way. Otherwise anything can happen."

One player Chelsea have been without so far is Eden Hazard following his broken ankle.

Hazard was called up by Belgium for their games with Gibraltar and Greece and Conte spoke both to him and to Red Devils manager Roberto Martinez on Saturday.

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"I spoke with the player and the player is happy to go and stay with the national team. He's the captain," Conte added.

"But the most important thing is to continue to work very hard to improve, then to have the possibility to bring him to the bench after the international break and we can start to think he's a new player for Chelsea this season."

Another Belgian, Kevin Mirallas, has upset Everton manager Ronald Koeman.

Koeman said: "Mirallas was out because he's struggling to deal with moments in a season and with disappointments.

"Everybody can be disappointed, but I expect from everybody to be part of the team and if somebody is showing that he is disappointed and his attitude is not the same, then I make decisions."

Koeman declined to say whether Mirallas would now leave Everton, who are yet to receive an offer for forward Ross Barkley, linked with Chelsea and Tottenham.

Koeman, like Conte, wants to add players to his squad, but he refused to say if Everton had approached Chelsea about exiled striker Diego Costa.

He added: "We need at least two more players, to get numbers in, but the most important is to get a striker in and one more player.

"We did some good business. But everybody knows and the board knows the importance of those two signings.

"If we sign somebody it's somebody who makes the team better."

The Everton manager is without several regulars through injury and was disappointed with the first-half display at Chelsea.

"We lost it in the first half and not the second half," he said.

In other matches, West Bromwich Albion drew with Stoke City 1-1 and Burnley scored in last minute to come away with 1-1 draw against Tottenham Hotspur.