Blues job was one of most volatile in world football, with top bosses sacked annually but Italian’s approach shows change
ANTONIO CONTE has finally brought calm to Stamford Bridge.
The Chelsea job, one of the most volatile positions in world football under Roman Abramovich, has become one of the safest.
Past managers — Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Carlo Ancelotti, Andre Villas-Boas, Roberto Di Matteo, Rafa Benitez and Guus Hiddink — reads like a who’s who of big-name managers.
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Conte, leading Chelsea to the Premier League title in his first season in English football with two games to spare, can become the most successful of them all.
Conte’s calming, measured approach, has seen to that.
The colourful, controversial days under the Special One, when he was spoiling for a fight with anyone and everyone, are behind them.
This is a new era.
Conte took it all on last summer, opting for the pressurised environment of the Premier League after leaving the Italian national job.
In just under a year he has mastered the language and changed the tactical direction of the sport after bringing in his fabled 3-4-3 formation.
Conte, a serial champion when he was coach of Juventus, is top drawer.
Behind the scenes there is an intensity to his work, a constant to drive to improve and to get the best out of his players.
Everybody at Chelsea is impressed with his work.
The signs are that he is in it for the long haul, strengthening his relationship with the big-wigs as the season progressed.
Early, damaging defeats against Liverpool at home and the scalding at Arsenal, have been forgotten.
Chelsea have a winning coach.
That was the title he insisted on being given last summer when he agreed to become Blues’ latest manager.
The Italian was happiest with the title “first team head coach” when he succeeded the Special One at Stamford Bridge.
Conte is happiest when he is out on the grass.
Coaching players, spending hours on video analysis and preparation, along with the work on the training pitches, is his big strength.
The politicking, the boardroom battles over transfers, power and control, are not for Conte.
He steers clear of all that, with his body of work taking shape on the pitch after the radical change to the formation after the 3-0 defeat against Arsenal.
Nobody will ever admit it at Chelsea, but Conte was fighting to convince Abramovich that he was the right man of the job after that clumsy defeat.
He survived, going on a hot streak that has taken Chelsea to the brink of an impressive Premier League and FA Cup double in his debut season.
There will be different challengers next season, with the defence of the title and some making some serious inroads into the Champions League taking priority.
Conte’s novelty value, the freshness of having a successful Italian coach in English football, will start to wear off.
He will need some new tricks.
That means new players, a swollen squad to cope with the demands of competing in two high-profile competitions.
Soon enough Conte will be making his recommendations, outlining his vision for Chelsea during summer talks with the board.
With their backing, anything is possible.