February 11, 2018

Pardew 'Feels Sorry' For Conte  (Sky Sports)

Antonio ConteWest Brom boss Alan Pardew has expressed sympathy for Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte, who he believes has done little wrong since guiding the club to their sixth league title last season.

Chelsea will go back above Tottenham into fourth place in the Premier League if they can beat the Baggies at Stamford Bridge on Monday Night Football, live on Sky Sports Premier League.

They go into the game on the back of two comprehensive defeats - 3-0 at home to Bournemouth and 4-1 away to Watford - and Pardew feels they have lost the momentum that is key to successful teams, while public displays of unease over transfer policy from Conte have not helped the situation at Stamford Bridge.

"I do feel sorry for the manager because the job he did last year was absolutely outstanding and I don't really think he's changed too much," said Pardew, who feels Diego Costa's return to Atletico Madrid has also destabilised the Blues.

"Maybe the quality of the opposition has changed and maybe the players he's had available haven't been to the consistency he had when he won it.

"But you cannot fault his record and the job he's done since he came to the Premier League. Chelsea had great momentum last season and they played a system that everybody was trying to deal with.

"We've all had extra time as managers to work out how to stop them so there's been a little bit of that.

"He's had injuries, he hasn't got the momentum and momentum - that mystery word that we keep using as managers - is such an important thing for giving confidence to everybody."

Costa returned to Atletico for £57m last year after scoring 20 times to help Chelsea claim the title in 2017.

They paid £60m to sign Alvaro Morata from Real Madrid as a replacement for Costa but the Spain international has scored just three goals in his last 15 appearances.

Olivier Giroud also joined from Arsenal on Deadline Day for a fee in the region of £18m but Pardew believes Chelsea are still struggling without Costa.

"He's been a big miss because he's a big character on the pitch and he can change the destiny of games, not so much with his ability sometimes - but with his character," added Pardew.

"When you've got one of those at the top of the pitch they're very difficult to replace."

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