LONDON -- Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte says he can understand Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola's recent comments about retiring from management, but he can't imagine his own life without football.
A visibly agitated Guardiola sparked bemusement in media engagements at the end of City's 2-0 win over Burnley by claiming that he is getting close to the end of his coaching career, despite being in charge at the Etihad Stadium for only six months.
Conte, who has enjoyed far more serene progress at Chelsea than City under Guardiola since September, says the pressures of top-level management mean it is only natural for even the most successful coaches to have doubts -- even if he does not believe the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss is really preparing to walk away from the game.
Asked if he had ever known a manager to say what Guardiola did, Conte said: "No, but I have great respect for Pep and I think that when you have a method, when you have a philosophy of football, an idea you want to bring in every team you manage, you spend a lot of energy. And sometimes it can happen that you are a bit tired, more tired, in some periods.
"Above all when you were a footballer and then quickly you became a manager. You spend a lot of energy. But not just physical energy, also mental energy. In some moments it can happen to think [about retiring].
"I'm sure that Pep wants to continue for a long time. I think his work is fantastic. When you decide to do this work it's because you like this. You like to have this pressure that is enormous. We need this."
Conte has made a positive impression on and off the pitch since taking over at Chelsea last summer, and earlier this week technical director Michael Emenalo said that he hopes the Italian can stay at Stamford Bridge "forever."
No Chelsea manager has lasted longer than three-and-a-half seasons in the Roman Abramovich era, but Conte admits he is hoping that he can build a lasting legacy at the club -- even if he is not quite sure if he can match the longevity of modern managerial greats Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger.
"You are talking about two monsters, two great managers," Conte said of Ferguson and Wenger. "Sir Alex Ferguson is a good example for me. When I see him, but also when I see Arsene, they are a big example for me. I hope to have not completely their career, but 10 years, yes. It's enough for me.
"Twenty more years? Now I'm 47. I prefer that my wife doesn't listen to this! This is our life. Football is our life, with this pressure, with [everything]. Football is our life and it's right to continue to live in football. In the moment that football is not in our life, I think probably we die."