Why Antonio Conte could flop at Chelsea next season
With the next season of the Premier League looking to be one of the most exciting in recent times, managers will be looking to iron out any flaws in their teams and deliver right from the beginning. The who’s who of football managers take centre stage to manage some of the biggest clubs in football and it will be interesting to see how their styles and personalities rub off on their teams.
One interesting story would be the one of Antonio Conte at Chelsea. Conte managed Juventus magnificently during his time with the Italian giants before taking over the reins of the Azzurri – The Italian National Football team.
Conte is known to be a strict disciplinarian and the Chelsea players will surely have their work cut out once he starts at his new job. However, the ruthless nature of the Premier League coupled with Conte’s lack of time to get accustomed to his new job could play a key factor in leading to his downfall even before his tenure begins. We take a look at how Conte will have to bring his A-game right from the get go and factors that could play a crucial role in determining his and his new club’s success:
1) Lack of time
With the likes of Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola already announcing their first signings of the season well in advance, Chelsea will need to identify and land targets as soon as Conte takes over. Football requires a certain chemistry amongst players and pre-season is the best time when one really gels well with his teammates and club. Conte is currently managing Italy at the Euros and with their qualification to the knockout rounds confirmed, it will only delay his arrival at West London.
A prime example of why Conte needs to have his plan sorted is Jose Mourinho himself. After Chelsea won the 2014-15 title, he decided to give his players extra time off before pre-season and this eventually led to his downfall.
Players arrived into the new season still fatigued and unfit and by the time it took for them to get conditioned to the rigours of the league, they were already out of the title race. Mourinho seems to have learnt his lesson and has already started identifying and purchasing players for United this season.
This lack of time factor is probably one of the most crucial of them all and is specially emphasized on owing to the fact that Conte is managing in the Premier League for the first time, however good a manager he might be.
The Premier League is the biggest club football stage in the world and with other issues such as buying and selling players, the British media etc. to take care of, Conte will have to perform a miracle to get Chelsea playing to his style immediately.
2) Players adapting to his style
One thing that Conte is famous for is his importance on defensive stability. Chelsea have a good roster of defenders with Gary Cahill, John Terry, Branislav Ivanovic, Kurt Zouma and Cesar Azpilicueta already proving themselves at the highest level. However, with Conte and the 3-5-2 formation that he prefers, he will have some coaxing and a lot of training to do to get them acclimatised to his style.
With the lack of time already focussed on, Conte will probably look to get one of the three defensive stalwarts at Juve – Chiellini, Bonucci and Barzagli to join him at Chelsea, however hard of a task that may be.
In addition, he loves using box-to-box midfielders with the likes of Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba providing great off the ball movement and tenacity to the team. Conte also likes attacking with wingbacks and the likes of Pedro, Willian and Eden Hazard will have to put in the hours of practice to sync perfectly.
Off the ball, Conte loves a high-pressing game up the pitch and with many of the Premier League teams preferring the counter-attacking style of play, he might find himself in trouble if he employs said method. The Italian will need to get the right players almost immediately and adapting them to his rigid, strict style will be the biggest challenge as Chelsea manager.
Antonio Conte is said to be one of the most fiery characters in the Italian football setup and players will have to toe the line if they are to succeed. This might not sit well with a few Chelsea stars and could cause friction.
The Italian is known to be very demanding and will put his players through hours and hours of video replays to make sure they attain perfection. He is also someone who does not shy away from giving a good old rollicking to anyone who disobeys him or puts in lesser effort.
Though this style is very commendable – that of getting the best through any means, Chelsea have a few players with some strong personalities and it will be interesting to see who what develops.
Conte also has strict diet requirements from his players and they will have to be at their best, both physically and mentally to deal with a character like him. Though this may not be the biggest factor owing to the high level of professionalism that is followed at that level, it might just make a little difference once he gets used to the squad.
One will not be surprised to see some big name players warming the bench at some point during the season.
All said and done, one thing that is for sure is the fact that Chelsea have gotten themselves a manager of the highest caliber in world football. If they are to succeed and compete in the league race and the Champions League spots, a few tough decisions will have to be made. Whether these factors prove conclusive can only be told with time.
Chelsea have had successful Italian players and managers who have led them to success in the past, with the likes of Gianfranco Zola and Roberto Di Matteo coming to mind in the recent past. Maybe Conte will have a quiet word with them about the club before he starts his tenure, but knowing him, it would be more out of formality than out of genuine interest to improve his tactical prowess.