CHELSEA supporters see a wild-eyed demon, leaping, screaming and gesturing wildly during a 90-minute stage act.
Supporters love to see boss Antonio Conte engage in public displays of passion which put their thoughts into action and suggest the Italian is slightly unhinged.
Never more so than when he jumped on Thibaut Courtois in jubilation at the final whistle at Everton two weeks ago, forgetting his goalkeeper was nursing a dodgy ankle.
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Yet it is not the matchday madness that has produced a remarkable turnaround in Chelsea’s fortunes in less than 12 months.
The groundwork is actually performed well away from the spotlight and in a much more level-headed, pragmatic and often diplomatic manner.
This is where the real Conte got to work dragging Chelsea out of the doldrums to be champions again.
There is a thin line to be walked as a manager — particularly when you were once a world class footballer yourself, as Conte was for Juventus and his country.
Your CV earns respect from the players in the team but some of them may also put you down as ‘one of the boys’, an ex-pro who will let you get away with murder.
Not in Conte’s case. And not so long ago it was encapsulated in one episode which sums up how he encourages and controls his players like a skilful teacher.
Striker Diego Costa had been busy covering his team-mates in buckets of iced water when he saw Conte with captain John Terry at the Cobham training ground.
It was too good an opportunity to miss and Costa crept up behind his unwitting boss, in full view of the rest of the players.
But at the very last moment, good sense struck and Costa wheeled away, suddenly realising this was not such a good idea after all.
As one Blues insider said: “Costa thought better of it. At the last second he veered off and rightly so.
“Conte lets the players laugh during training and occasionally he joins in. But mostly he lets them joke around.
“But then they know from his face when it is time to get back to work.
“He’s got the balance spot on. If a manager gets too matey with the players, the respect goes.”
Conte would not ask his players to do anything he was not prepared to do himself as an accomplished and fiercely committed midfielder.
He is often a little late for press conferences and steadfastly apologises for it. It is because he still gets the buzz from watching players train.
Despite flogging his players half to death last summer, the players love him for it and injuries have been rare.
Even those few on the sick list are kept involved. The crocks get visits from the boss to check on progress and attend team meetings to feel involved.
Other managers were not bothered by anyone not at their immediate disposal.
Every day at the training ground it is smiles and handshakes for everyone.
As another source said: “He is classy – but not affected by his position.”
Conte’s predecessor Jose Mourinho had his methods of lightening the mood.
At the right time of year, players and staff suddenly felt a sharp crack on the head or backside, only to turn around and see a laughing Mourinho with a handful of acorns as his ammunition.
Managers earn their money when things are going wrong not right.
This is where the two men’s approach forks. Mourinho went for the jugular, digging out players like Eden Hazard in public last season and embarking on a policy of dropping players in rotation in a bid to find the problem.
It did nothing to generate harmony in the dressing room.
Conte is a hard man, recently rounding on one journalist who asked how he keeps players like Cesc Fabregas happy while not picking him every week.
He habitually twiddles with the microphone in front of him when he has to think about an answer.
But this time he retorted instantly with a jerk of his head: “You speak about ‘happy’. I speak about ‘to win’ and to work very hard.
“I want players ready to fight. If you are happy or unhappy, I don’t care.”
It’s a simple message that Conte can take you anywhere you want to go as a player, but there are lines which simply must not be crossed.
That thought must have flashed through Costa’s mind just as he was about to chuck a gallon of water over his boss.
How Chelsea won it