Last summer’s headlines in the football world surrounding managers seemed to be focussed on Manchester.
The arrival of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City and the return to English football of Jose Mourinho at United dominated websites and the back of newspapers.
Antonio Conte’s arrival at Chelsea almost went under the radar; such was the fervour surrounding Mourinho and Guardiola.
The two were set for a title battle and it did not seem like anybody else stood a chance, or so we were led to believe.
City and United currently sit in fourth and sixth of the Premier League table. Meanwhile, Chelsea wrapped up the title with a 1-0 win at West Brom on Friday night. There were wild celebrations at the Hawthorns and Conte had claimed the title in his first year in the Premier League.
A tactical switch proved the key to the title
In the early weeks of the campaign, I actually fancied Chelsea to win the title, simply because they had Conte in charge. However, a patchy run of form led Conte to switch formations from a 4-2-3-1 to a 3-4-3 formation at half-time against Arsenal and the rest is history.
Conte has always preferred systems with three at the back in his career. The system has brought the Italian immense success with Juventus in Serie A, while also helping a mediocre Italy overachieve at Euro 2016.
For the system to be successful Conte needed the right players. However, the Blues did not look equipped to play the system. As he so often does Conte found a solution to the problem by signing Marcos Alonso and by turning winger Victor Moses into a wing-back. Both were strokes of genius.
Suddenly the likes of Diego Costa and Eden Hazard were shining again, courtesy of the protection they had behind them. The outstanding N’Golo Kante and Nemanja Matic gave the Blues defence protection, while wing-backs Alonso and Moses provided excellent support to the attacking players.
The three-man central defence of Gary Cahill, David Luiz and the ever-dependable Cesar ‘Dave’ Azpilicueta have also been outstanding.
In truth, Chelsea’s formation was nothing revolutionary. The Italian was always likely to roll it out at Chelsea at some point. He just waited for the right pieces of the jigsaw to be in place.
This should be no surprise
Conte arrived at a club with a disenchanted dressing room. He inherited a team that had just finished 10th in the Premier League. However, he carved a masterpiece out of a mantelpiece, but this should not could as a surprise to any anybody who had monitored the Italian boss’ career.
The 47-year-old is a serial winner. From his playing days to his days reviving Juventus, Conte has won games and trophies. This is due to his sheer enthusiasm, passion and work-ethic. The players will be worked hard, but they know that the Italian will help them win medals.
His tactical nous and man-management seem to bring the best out of his players. If a player gives his all for Conte then they get their rewards. That is why the Italian has been successful at Juventus and at Chelsea.
Antonio Conte deserves this title
As a person, Antonio Conte comes across as a very genuine and classy guy. He does not seek attention like some former Chelsea bosses (Jose I am looking at you). Conte gets on with his job and shows humility, a foreign concept at Chelsea under Mourinho.
Arguably there are now less Chelsea haters out there and Conte’s is the reason for it. The Blues have not always been the most popular team in the Premier League in the last decade.
Conte has brought a touch of class to Chelsea. Far more neutrals seem to appreciate Conte’s Chelsea team than previous versions, so maybe the club have the Italian to thank for more than just winning the title.
No doubt the Blues boss will now be focussing on doing the double this season. The Blues face Arsenal in the FA Cup final on May 27th, a game they are odds of 19/20 to win.
Not many fans could complain if the Blues did the double. The Blues are once again a very good team and are no doubt in safe hands of the classy Conte.
Does Antonio Conte get the credit he deserves?
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