Chelsea defender Cesar Azpilicueta has set a big target for new manager Antonio Conte in his first season at Stamford Bridge, insisting that the club must immediately return to the Premier League title race after slumping to a 10th place finish in 2015/16.
Even as a bare minimum, Azpilicueta expects Chelsea to get back into the Champions League.
“Our minimum target is to reach the top four but we have to challenge for trophies and we have to challenge for the title,” the Spaniard explained to Sky Sports.
“We are coming from a very low position and we are not happy with that. We want to come back to our real position, which is fighting for the title,” he added.
Azpilicueta was an important part of the squad that collected a fifth English league title for the club in 2015 under the guidance of Jose Mourinho. Things then inexplicably collapsed last season and the former Marseille full-back believes Chelsea owe it to the fans to restore pride.
“Last season was very hard for us and our fans also but they were behind us all season. We were suffering but now is the time to start from the beginning,” he explained.
“We have to show that we are back and that we can challenge for a title.”
For Conte himself, the important task is forgetting about the disastrous campaign and making sure things are now put right.
“[We must] work really hard in the present to build a great future for us, for the club, for the players, for me, for the fans, for all the people who work in Chelsea,” the new boss told ESPN.
“For me it’s important to concentrate on the present and leave the past.”
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