Will Antonio Conte be the right manager for Chelsea?
Amidst all the rumors surrounding the next Chelsea manager, one name that stands out is Antonio Conte, the Italy national football team manager. Conte has been linked to the Chelsea hot seat for quite some time now and many news outlets have reported that the Italian has agreed a ‘deal in principle’.
Sportskeeda analyzes whether Conte is the right man for the job or not, as an official confirmation nears.
Antonio Conte started playing football at an early age with his boyhood club U.S. Lecce and made a senior team debut at an age of 16. Later he was transferred to Juventus, where he went on the captain the side and win five Serie A titles and a Champions League.
Soon after finishing his career at the Old Lady, where he made 296 appearances, the central midfielder stepped into coaching with his first job coming up as an assistant manager at Siena and then as the manager of the Serie B outfit Arezzo.
After a forgettable stint with Arezzo, Conte was appointed as the manager for another Serie B team Bari, where he won the Italian second division in his second and final season at the club.
Soon after, Juventus appointed their fan favorite, Conte as the first team manager on 22 May 2011. Already in the record books of Juventus, Conte went on win three back to back Serie A title as a manager and created a legacy at the club he was always loved at. He was also awarded the Serie A ‘Coach of the Year’ award in all of those three campaigns for creating a dominating team that broke many records.
Conte then resigned from the job in 2014 and went on to accept a two-year contract with the Italian National Football team. Italy qualified for the Euros as they finished on top of Group E with an unbeaten qualifying campaign, which saw them register seven wins.
What does he bring to Chelsea?
Antonio Conte has always been known for his obsession with tactics and organization on the field. This has not only got him a lot of success but also brought in comparisons with ex-Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho.
The hard working Italian tried a variety of formations during his rather successful managerial career. They include a 4-2-4, 4-1-4-1, 3-3-4, and 4-3-3, before he finally settled on his now favorite 3-5-2 or 5-3-2 formation while also using the 3-5-1-1 on some occasions, which is more of a trademark of his now.
This is not the first time that the former midfielder has been in demand by the top clubs. And Chelsea have all the right reasons to make him Jose Mourinho’s permanent replacement.
Conte has been credited with giving youth and experienced an equal chance in his squads. The emergence of Paul Pogba and Kwado Asamoah, along with the resurgence of Andrea Pirlo and Leonardo Barzagli only proves the same.
At Chelsea, what Conte gets is a good youth system, which gives out a whole lot of promising youngsters, evident from the fact that Chelsea have 34 players out on loan at different clubs all over Europe. Also, Roman Abramovich has never really been cost conservative with any of his managers, with the London side spending over £1 Billion on transfers, which only gives Conte a lot of muscle to build a squad as per his ideology.
Many players have played under him have been full of praise of his abilities. Marco Verratti considers the Italy manager as the best he's ever worked with. Pirlo, in a recent interview, said, "There is a beast in him. I have been in his dressing room at half-time when we have been winning, but he comes in and will be throwing full bottles of water around because of a mistake we made or because he feels we should be further ahead,".
He said, "His life is football. I know he is up until 3-4am in the morning, studying videos, looking at errors, studying the opposition of the next game. It is a good job Elisabetta is such an understanding wife, and if he takes the Chelsea job then she will have plenty of time to enjoy London, because he has two wives – Elisabetta and football.
Any worries for Chelsea?
Not really. Given his managerial record and pedigree for the game, Conte is a man good enough for any top football job at the moment. The only question that people can ponder upon is his lack of experience in the English game.
The Italian has been accused of playing a constant XI in most of his games, which might have been possible in Italy, but will not be in England, given the demanding number of games that are played with high intensity in the Premier League.
Bringing in more similarities with ex-Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, Conte too has been tagged as a person who has egoistic issues and is someone who does not like any obstructions in his way. He resigned from the Juventus job after a feud with the hierarchy at the club.
The Italian Federation President Carlo Tavecchio confirmed this in an interview, saying, “Juve and Conte didn't have a good relationship. He has a very strong personality, and things were complicated by an economic dispute between him and the club." although finances might not be an issue at Chelsea.
His passion for the game is unmatched, which has been well documented by Andrea Pirlo in his auto-biography. Pirlo recalls a story at Juventus when Conte was aiming, and working hard to break the league record for most points in a season and when goalkeeper and club legend Gianluigi Buffon interrupted the team meeting to discuss player bonuses, Conte "lost his rag."
"Shut the f*** up Gigi, What the f*** are you saying? Don’t say a word. I don’t want to see you anymore, get out of here! I would have never expect it from you, you don’t know s*** Gigi, you are the captain, you are a disappointment to me as well as all these idiots." was what he exclaimed at Buffon.
Pirlo also very recently came out, full of praise for the Italian manager saying, “I have played under a lot of great managers.”
“But I can say that Conte is a genius. Like all men who possess genius, he is a little mad. The man can be a beast, a dressing room when he is angry is one of the most dangerous places you can be.”
Given the lack of real long term options, what Chelsea currently need is a tactical genius in the form of Conte, who can rebuild a side that has gone from Champions to strugglers because of their poor defensive record, and the Italian, of all managers, can ensure a tight defence with his tactical awareness and infinite attention in organizing a team.
Although, only time that will tell how the Italian fares at Stamford Bridge, if at all he arrives.