With Leicester having earned the trophy, and Chelsea having played their part, there is not much left for the club from London to play for other than to look forward and prepare for better performance next season. After the Euros, Antonio Conte will officially take over the reins at Chelsea from current caretaker manager Guus Hiddink. The Italian barring a miracle should be arriving after a faltering Euros campaign, which would spell the end of an average managerial stint. While his record with the national team is not praiseworthy his club record speaks for itself and also speaks for the type of person or manager he is. During his resignation speech, he mentioned how he missed managing and working with a team on a daily basis, but then again they are just words.
That speech alone should inform Chelsea fans of what to expect. As a player, Conte was a dogged midfielder who enjoyed sticking in. In a similar fashion to Simeone, he has taken that very approach and converted it into a desirable managerial flair, which requires his players to play in somewhat a similar manner to what he was accustomed to; constantly running, closing down spaces and never shying away from tackles.
Rest assured, the Blues will be hungrier and resolute, annoying the most out of the opposition. The Italian, who appeared as an average skilled footballer, managed to win numerous titles going further to captain the Bianconeri – an opportunity only given to those who show pure commitment, which is what he demands of players. This could be exemplified by his anger on the Juve players despite being up by a few goals. Conte was seen hurling around bottles in the locker room.
His charm did not go unnoticed. Andrea Pirlo – the bearded Italian regista was taken aback by a few words from Conte, “’Lads, we’ve finished seventh in the last two years. Crazy stuff, absolutely appalling. I’ve not come here for that. ‘It’s time we stopped being c**p. Turning around this ship is not a polite request; it’s an order, a moral obligation.”
Conte cannot be anymore perfect of a coach to motivate players and turn around a sinking ship. Comparing the similarities between him and Mourinho, both have the tendency to demand a lot from players and exclude those who do not play the stipulated way, both are able to maintain an ‘us against them’ mentality in their squad and are tactically very flexible, despite what has been said of Conte.
A lot has been spoken about how the tactics he might employ on the pitch with 3-5-2 making waves but I genuinely disagree with that notion. Conte throughout his managerial career has rotated various formations. And it was only at Juventus (and now Italy) where he played 3-5-2 due to the quality of his center backs (he easily had the best 3 center backs in the league) along with center midfielders. Arguably his favored formation would be the 4-2-4, so much so that even ex-Bari president Vincenzo Matarrese was surprised at that formation after their promotion to the Serie A after their promotion in 2009.
It was only at Juventus that he twirled towards the 3-5-2. For a few reasons. With three immeasurable center backs and a solid line-up of center midfield players thriving with talent, it possibly was the only formation that could bring the best out of Pirlo. Pirlo, under Conte, went through a reawakening winning three back-to-back titles. At the same time, a few would argue that Conte has been a failure with Juventus on the European front, a claim that was made worse by Allegri taking the club to the final last season. But luckily for Chelsea, the worry of European football does not exist come next season and with the squad and financial might of Chelsea, Conte will be able to tinker and prepare his team for when Europe calls calling, which he was unable to do at the Bianconeri.
The only concern for a Chelsea fan would be that Conte loves to get involved in scouting, selecting and execution of transfers. While this has been a successful strategy at Juventus, it might not bode well with Roman Abramovich, who is known for his interference. Conte is not a man to take kindly to that, and for anyone at Chelsea, players, staff, management and owner, there will be only one warning: It’s either the Conte way or the highway. He has previously walked out of Bari and Juventus over disagreements with the management and rest assured he won’t hesitate to walk out again if he feels like a puppeteer is handling him. If given freedom, he is the perfect person to not only steady this sinking ship but return it to it’s former glory.