Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has blamed Alvaro Morata’s poor disciplinary record on the pressure of being the number one striker at Stamford Bridge.
The 25-year-old Spain international has played bit-part roles at former clubs Real Madrid and Juventus, with his previous highest number of league starts being 16 at Serie A champions Juve in the 2015-16 season.
He is already up to 18 at Chelsea and, after a positive start, his form has dipped alarmingly – Morata has not scored in six games in all competitions.
The player’s frustration was evident on Wednesday against Norwich City in the FA Cup as he received two quickfire yellow cards, the first for alleged simulation and the second for protesting the decision. He will now serve his second suspension of the season at Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.
Conte said: “For the strikers, this situation can happen. For Alvaro, this is the first season that he’s been having a full season. Maybe, for him, this is the first time to face this type of problem. But he has to overcome this problem because this is a stupid problem.
“You have to work for the team and not lose confidence. The coach trusts him, his team-mates trust him, the club trusts him, the fans trust him. I don’t see a problem, but this is the first time Morata has faced this situation. Before, if you stay on the bench, you don’t have this type of pressure. So now he has to learn to face this type of situation, move forward and go on.”
Conte expressed sympathy for Morata regarding his sending-off against Norwich.
He said: “I think the player knows very well his mistake. There was frustration for the first yellow card, because the player didn’t deserve it.
“If the referee doesn’t want to give the penalty, in this situation it’s still not right to book him.
“But, at the same time, you must learn to control yourself. The second yellow card was for dissent. I agree with the player for the first yellow card, but I don’t agree with the player for the second yellow card. He has to check himself in future.”