There is no second-best in Conte’s dictionary. A natural born winner who always aimed for the highest peaks, both as a player and as a manager. A ferocious tactician who even made such legend as Gianluigi Buffon stand helpless while he lectured him like an angry father lectures a son who just made a mistake. Andrea Pirlo once stated that still water turned fizzy when thrown by Conte, markers burst into pieces, as the temperamental manager tried to prove his point in a rather unorthodox manner. But, such reactions never backfired because, in the end, almost all of his players loved him and understood his “tough love” approach. The respect he earned with his team is best described through Vidal’s words: “I would take him to war with me”.
Work, work and only work
Former Juventus tactician never cared much about reputation or talent. If you do not “eat grass”, or “sh*t blood”, you will be thrown out, because a player is only as good as his last game, last training session, as he once said. If you lack commitment, you might just as well pack your bags and go home. Success is the only thing important and maybe that is why he named his daughter Vittoria. As a player, he used to cover every piece of the field, such hard work was later rewarded with a captain’s armband at Juventus. This is why Conte expects all his players to show the identical passion, or they can leave as fast as they came to the club.
Some of the newspapers started calling him “the Italian Mourinho”, due to his passion for tactics and meticulous match preparation. It is a well-known fact that players lose their interest in the meetings if the talk goes longer than half an hour – Conte’s sessions lasted for more than one hour. And the attention never dropped, since Antonio is a specialist in psychology. “His words assault you, crash through your mind, often quite violently, and settle deep within”, Pirlo once said. Conte has the manner of anticipating all the possible problems his team would encounter, thus providing all possible solutions to prevail them.
Juventus spell a big success
We all have to agree that “the Hammer”, as they call him in Italy, did wonders with Juventus during his Turin spell, mostly thanks to his tactical approach, winning mentality and ability to create a tremendous team spirit around him. The fire that runs through him was easily passed on to his players, since he used simple words and energetic gestures to conquer the audience. The Old Lady finished seventh two times in a row before his arrival, and the current Italia head coach won the Scudetto in the first year of his reign, finished it with a treble in his pocket, and took over the Azzurri.
But everybody had to pitch in and give more than one hundred percent all day, every day. Blood, sweat and tears, this is what he expects. Such an approach started producing results, results became victories, and victories secured titles. He only lost seven games with Juventus, becoming the manager with the highest winning ratio in Serie A. In his final season at Juventus, there was just one more game to play. A win would make them become the team with the highest number of points in a single season in Serie A history. Instead of preparing themselves for the match, his team was preparing to discuss the question of winning bonuses with the management, and Conte allegedly rushed all of his players out of the room, storming at Buffon and throwing everything he could lay his hands on. The result of such a “pep-talk” was a 3-0 triumph against Cagliari and 102 points on their tally.
Chelsea an adequate task for such a hard-working manager
A move to Chelsea will be a next step in Conte’s career, since he will be given the chance to compete with the best managers in the world. Guardiola, Wenger, Klopp, Ranieri and possibly Mourinho will secure a perfect competitive surroundings Conte craves for. The general opinion is that he will have a much better starting point with the Blues than he had with the Old Lady, due to the number of quality players he will have in the squad, but the competition will as well be much bigger than in Italy.
The only question is which of the current team members will be able to fit in his tactics. Rumour has it that Diego Costa will be first to go, due to his problematic behavior, while Willian presents a perfect prototype of the footballer Conte adores. He likes his team to be compact, with each player assigned a distinctive role. Even though there was plenty of speculation that Terry would leave in the summer, the Italy national team coach might just make the captain stay put due to his positive effect on his teammates, since Conte once stated that there was no young and old, only victory and failure. He studied thoroughly the entire personal at Chelsea, and said he would need only a couple of reinforcements to get back on the top.
Arturo Vidal is one of his favorite warriors, so he will be the one to watch, but if that mission fails, he will turn to Radja Nainggolan, whom he admires. Romelu Lukaku, Everton’s hitman, proved that the Blues made a tremendous mistake in selling him to the Toffees, and now Roman Abramovich will have to spend tons of cash getting him back to Stamford Bridge. Conte is well known for giving a chance to young players, so Kennedy and Loftus-Cheek should be given their share of opportunities to earn a place in the first team, as well as the loanees, such as Ake from Watford and one of the best defenders in the Bundesliga this term, Andreas Christensen. Both defenders could easily fill the gaps in the back and would present the future for the Pensioners. Juan Cuadrado has been shining at Juventus of late and Conte will have a good solution for the flanks with the Colombia international. Pogba’s name is also being bandied about mentioned, but the price tag could present a big problem, since Conte is not known as a big spender.
The main question – Will he succeed?
Whoever he picks, he will demand intensity from the first day. His enormous ambition was the secret of Juventus’ success, and he will use that fire to light up the fallen giants from London. The players that do not respond will be shown the door, no doubts about that, since it’s his way, or the highway.
Some of the former Chelsea players do not think that Conte is the correct choice for the Blues due to his similarity with Mourinho. “Hitting players with a whip” style proved wrong during the reign of the Special One and it is believed Conte’s approach would prove to be the same. In addition, Conte never managed to achieve the same greatness in Europe as in Italy. Also, the language barrier is stressed as a potential danger, but Conte’s emotions speak for themselves, so the players can easily understand his intentions. But, if that fails, a year of intensive English course he took should do the job.
Chelsea will miss out on European competitions next season, and this fact may present a difficulty for attracting top players. The Italian manager will start form scrap, as he did with Juventus and still managed to win the treble. Bearing everything in mind, Antonio Conte just might prove he is the proper fresh blood Roman Abramovich was looking for, and that he will put Chelsea back at the top of English and European football. He will be the fifth Italian at the helm, after Vialli, Ranieri, Ancelotti, and Di Matteo, and probably the best Italian on the job, provided he repeats the success form Turin.
So, what is your verdict? Is Conte the right man for Chelsea?