Let me work in peace, says beleaguered Conte
UNDER-FIRE Italy coach Antonio Conte urged his critics to bury the hatchet and leave him to get on with his job, following his side's Euro 2016 qualifying 2-2 draw with Bulgaria on Saturday.
Conte, who has been criticised following an injury to Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio, has also been attacked by John Elkann, the head of the holding company which controls Fiat and Juventus, who said the Italy coach had worked the players too hard during the national team's training camps.
Some Juventus fans have also blamed Conte's training methods for Marchisio's injury, while Italian football federation president Carlo Tavecchio said the coach had received death threats on the Internet.
"I can't just let some things slide as if they didn't happen," Conte said after their draw on Saturday. "Some things stay. They wounded me.
"I just ask to be left to work in peace. I've always worked hard in my life, at times giving results, at times not. I ask only to be left to work in peace.
"I was called to the national team to work and just ask that I be left to work. Results can be positive or not.
"But underhanded comments... I can't let that slide, I have the memory of an elephant."
Italy host England in a friendly international at the Juventus Stadium tomorrow and it will be Conte's first time back in Turin since he left the Italian champions last summer.
"Our team was not impacted by these things. We are used to situations like this," Conte added.
"We need to remain focused and sticking to what we know. We remain united, despite what other people say, in order to put in good performances."
Italy captain Giorgio Chiellini made an appeal to the media and Juventus to support the national team.
"It was a tormented build-up," said the Juventus defender. "This coach and this team does not deserve to be treated like this. I would like everyone to help this Nazionale grow and nurture it, not constantly stir up controversy."
Unbeaten Italy are second in Group H with 11 points from five matches, two adrift of leaders Croatia.