Italian tactician Antonio Conte, the former coach of Juventus and Italy, took over the reins at Stamford Bridge about two weeks ago, and a large section of the fans are optimistic that his reign will be a successful one.
The Italian gaffer, who guided Italy to a respectable quarterfinal finish has reasonably tried to lower the expectation of the fans, saying there is a lot of rebuilding to be done. Below are five reasons why Chelsea fans can afford to be optimistic this season;
A Proven Winner
Antonio Conte is one of the most decorated players in Italian football history, winning 5 league titles and 1 Champions League title in his 13 years at Juventus.
The respect this success commands in any dressing room cannot be overemphasised, as players understand this is a man who has won it all. He is also one of a handful of managers who have won the Italian league as both player and manager. He won 3 consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus from 2011 till 2014, and will know all about the pressure of title races.
2. A Tactical Genius
The 3-5-2 formation is probably the most difficult formation to pull off in football, which is the reason most managers stay away from it. If properly deployed, however, it is the hardest formation to defeat.
This exemplary formation has to be Conte’s go-to formation, one he has mastered over years of use, and it has brought him success at Juventus, and Italy admittedly to a lesser extent.
3. Very dynamic
Arguably the most impressive trait about Conte is his ability to adapt to the opposition in an attempt to negate their strengths.
In his time with Juventus, he dominated possession in most league games, but he was happy to concede this possession and adopt a more defensive shape against bigger teams like FC Bayern and Barcelona in the Champions League. This one game at the time approach makes Antonio Conte managed teams very hard to prepare for.
4. Fair but Principled
Conte’s honest, open book approach is one of the reasons for his success at Bari, and at Juventus. He picks his players based on form, and fitness, and not on reputation.
Conte is the type of manager to give Paul Pogba a spot in the first XI even though he was just 18 years old. Antonio Conte said recently when asked why he left the great Andrea Pirlo out of his Euro 2016 squad, he replied; “We evaluated him (Pirlo) and Giovinco, it’s normal that if you choose to go and play there (MLS) then you can pay the consequences in footballing terms.”
5. In His Prime Managerial Years
Football coaches have their peak years, much in the same way footballer players do. For football managers, this peak is between 38 and 55 years of age. Most people will dispute this fact but look at the ages of some of the most impressive club managers from last season. Pep Guardiola (45), Diego Simeone (46), Zinedine Zidane (44), Thomas Tuchel (42), Massimo Allegri (48).
That age band has the right mix of creativity, hunger, expertise and risk taking. Antonio Conte is right in the middle of his prime, and Chelsea fans should be in for a real treat going forwards.