Conte denies selection ‘message’

Antonio Conte rejected accusations on Saturday that he selected a side designed to send a message to the board about the club’s lack of signings in the summer.

Conte started with Jeremie Boga and named six young substitutes as Chelsea lost their opening match 3-2 to Burnley at Stamford Bridge.

Two goals from Sam Vokes and a spectacular Stephen Ward strike put Burnley 3-0 up at half time before Chelsea saved some face with a debut goal from Alvaro Morata and a David Luiz volley.

"Why this question?” asked Conte.

“You are not satisfied with my starting XI? You don't know me very well.

"You can see that in our preseason, in every friendly game I played the best formation and it happened also today, because my choice was to put the players we have in this moment.

"I don't like this appetite for someone to send a message. Why do I have to send a message? I want to win. I want to win today. I wanted to win, not to send a message to my club."

"We have to pay attention because you can see that in the last three official games, we finished twice with 10 men against Arsenal and today with nine men," he said. "Also me, I have to study a new formation with 10 players online, because when it happens with this regularity you must be worried."

Asked about the performance of referee Craig Pawson, Conte replied: "I prefer not to comment on the referee's decisions. I think that the coach can make mistakes, the players can make mistakes, the referee [too]."

Conte added that Cahill's early red card had been key to Chelsea's defeat.

"For sure it was a key moment, because after this red card we lost our composure and we conceded three goals," he added. "We have to improve a lot on this aspect because a situation of this type can happen, but we must pay attention to try to think that there is the rest of the game to try and do our best.

"Instead we conceded three goals and the second half was very difficult to change the result, despite the great commitment, the great desire, the great will of my players. I'm very proud for this but today I saw two faces: one positive in the second half and one negative in the first half."

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