Antonio Conte: Chelsea 'must be realistic' about Champions League hopes

Antonio Conte insists Chelsea need to be realistic about the prospects of playing in the Europa League next season.

Conte, who seems increasingly likely to leave the club in the summer, was also quick to say that "defeat makes you stronger" after a difficult second season in West London.

The Blues boss delivered the Premier League title following a successful first campaign at Stamford Bridge, but his side has come nowhere near to defending the crown this year.

Having lost 3-1 at home to Tottenham last weekend, Chelsea are now fifth, well adrift of the Champions League places ahead of Sunday's meeting with West Ham.

The feeble surrender of their title has seen Conte's position come under increasing scrutiny and it still remains unclear if he will be in charge at the start of next season.

But, on a personal level at least, the Italian believes such a period can only make him better in the future.

"I think that, for a club like Chelsea, it is important to play in the Champions League and to play in the Europa League," the Blues boss said. "We must be realistic to understand the reality.

"It was my prediction [that we would struggle] and I now stop. Maybe next season, I will have another prediction that is better.

"You become stronger after a defeat. When you win, you don't see always the problem. When you don't win, you have a lot of strength to try to change the situation, to try to have a good answer. A defeat makes you stronger than a win.

"The most important thing for us is to finish the season in the best possible way, to focus on the present and to go game by game. Then, if we arrive at the right moment, we will speak about the future."

With just three league wins since the turn of the year, it is clear there are issues at Chelsea and that breaking into the top four to secure Champions League qualification looks a dwindling prospect.

Indeed, Conte admits the club must now keep an eye on what is happening below them, as well as above, with Arsenal five points behind.

"As I've said before -- we have to try our best every single game,'' he added. "To look forward but at the same time look behind. It's right.

"The only thing that we can do and try to do every game is to show great desire, great pride and to try to finish this season in the best position in the table.

"There is a great gap with Man City. The table is showing this. Now, to speak about the gap between us and Manchester City, is not right.

"Now the most important thing is to be focused on the present and to try to finish this season in the best possible way.

"That must be our focus. Then we arrive in the right moment to think about the way we can work to reduce this gap.

"We have to try to do our best in every game. We have to look forward but at the same time, we have to look behind [at Arsenal in sixth]. The only thing we can do is to try to do everything in every game, to show great desire, to show great pride to finish the season in the best position in the table."