I owe Conte thanks says West Ham's Ogbonna
PUBLISHED: 12:00 08 April 2018
PA Archive/PA Images
West Ham defender Angelo Ogbonna will always be in Antonio Conte’s debt but he does not plan on doing the Chelsea boss any favours on Sunday.
Conte took the centre-half from Torino to Juventus and also called him into the Italy squad for Euro 2016 before moving to Stamford Bridge.
Conte’s future at Chelsea is under intense scrutiny with the Blues, Premier League champions last season, rapidly losing ground in the race for a top-four finish.
But West Ham are looking for a victory to further ease their relegation fears and Ogbonna knows he cannot afford any sympathy for his old manager when the teams meet.
“I am still close to him,” said the 29-year-old. “He was a manager who has been very important for my career.
“He took me to Juventus and then picked me for Italy for the European games.
“I think Chelsea still are a really good team and you have to have a really big squad to compete in this league.
“But to be fair it is not my problem right now. The problem now is for us to get something from the game.”
Ogbonna has been one of the few bright spots in a torrid season for West Ham and, alongside Marko Arnautovic, he will be a frontrunner to win the club’s Hammer of the Year award.
West Ham’s struggles have come as a surprise to the Cassino-born player, although he admits the squad David Moyes is working with is probably too thin.
“We shouldn’t be in this position. It is strange really,” Ogbonna added.
“I think the mistake has been with our squad. Every year a big investor comes, like at Manchester City.
“But if you look at the table it is so tight. You can think you are safe, but you are not.
“You can have just two games and you think you are safe, but then if you lose it becomes different. It is constant, always you have to get the points.”
Ogbonna is again likely to be without his defensive partner James Collins through injury, while midfielder Manuel Lanzini is also a doubt.