Antonio Conte's first press conference: Chelsea belongs in the Champions League
Conte refused to speak about the club's transfer targets but spoke of his philosophy and ideas for the club
New Chelsea boss Antonio Conte held his first press conference after taking over at Stamford Bridge and he revealed that the Blues were one of “six or seven teams” who could win the Premier League title in the 2016/17 season. The Italian manager also spoke of the tactics he could employ in England with the first game of the new season exactly a month away.
The former Italy manager, who took the Azzurri to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, has never managed outside Italy before and is still learning English. But he still managed to answer a few questions from the English media.
“Chelsea belongs in the Champions League and we must stay there,” he said. The Blues finished 10th last season in what was a disastrous defence of their 2014/15 title triumph and will not be competing in Europe this season.
“We know that this year won’t be easy for us because if we think of last season, the 10th position, it was a bad season. The fans need to find a team ready to fight until the end and to compete with the other teams.”
Mos of Chelsea’s struggles last season had to do with players underperforming under Jose Mourinho. While it was the Portuguese boss who eventually suffered the consequences by getting sacked in December, some of the players did not escape criticism.
And Conte believes the players’ attitude over the past two days he has taken training sessions suggests that will not be the case. “The players have shown a great will to fight for this shirt and to fight to get back to competing to win the title very soon. I’m very glad to see these things and it’s very very important
“I have great passion for football, for my team and my work. I want to transfer my passion to my players, also to my fans.
Conte wants Chelsea to play attractive football but also run a lot
Questions soon moved to what kind of formation Conte would play and he even laughed when he was asked whether Chelsea would play three at the back.
“I search to find the right position for the players. I feel I can improve my players. It’s important that there must be a great spirit and I’m sure we can improve through the work.”
“We started to work and I think that every manager has their own methods and own philosophy of football.
“I want to transfer my ideas and methods to my players. I think it’s important to work under different aspects to become strong and to help us overcome the difficulty of the transition.”
Most of Chelsea’s players looked lethargic last season and so will Conte have anything up his sleeve for the new season?
“If you want to win you must play good, attractive football but also have a good physical condition,” he explained. “If you run more than the others, you have more probability to win.”
And when a question as asked on the club’s transfer targets, Conte was non-committal.
“It’s not right to say the names because these players are in another team,” he said. “I don’t want another manager to speak of my players and I don’t like to do the same.”
While the big clubs will pose a challenge to Chelsea this season, especially the two Manchester clubs, there is also Leicester City to consider. Managed by a fellow Italian, Conte said he had not spoken to Claudio Ranieri yet but said that he would.
“In the coming days I’ll call Claudio Ranieri because he’s a lovely man and I’ll ask him for advice,” Conte said. “I’m clued up on trying to come in with respect, a low profile and get to grips to the country.”