Thursday, October 19, 2017

Conte can match Premier League heavyweights, says ex-Chelsea favourite

SoccerNews in English Premier League 4 Apr 2016

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Antonio Conte is capable of mixing it with managerial heavyweights such as Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp in the Premier League next season, according to former Chelsea favourite Clive Walker.

Chelsea confirmed Italy boss Conte will take over from Guus Hiddink on a three-year deal as head coach following the conclusion of Euro 2016, ending weeks of speculation.

The 46-year-old is the latest stellar name to make the move to the Premier League, with Guardiola set to join Manchester City next term, Klopp in charge at Liverpool, Mauricio Pochettino and Arsene Wenger at Tottenham and Arsenal respectively, while former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho is still being tipped to replace Louis van Gaal at Manchester United.

While the competition may be fierce, Walker – who made over 200 appearances for Chelsea between 1976 and 1984 – is confident that Conte, who led Juventus to three successive Serie A titles between 2012 and 2014, is capable of holding his own.

“I think he can [compete with the high-calibre managers] when you look at his experience with what he’s done with the Italian side and what he’s done at club level as well,” Walker told Omnisport. 

“Of course, he understands players and the way the world is now with players coming from all over the world. I think he can cope with that.

“The other managers will have their weight about them, but they will have to deal with things [as well]. Guardiola is another one coming in that will have to deal with it.

“I think he’ll be fine with that, it won’t be an issue. We all want to see him [Conte] hit the ground running because obviously Chelsea need to get themselves back to where they were in recent years.

“It’s a big thing for him, a big step, a big challenge and I think he’ll come at it all guns blazing and I think that’s what most Chelsea fans want to see.”

Walker, though, did issue a word of warning to Chelsea fans by stating that a lack of Premier League experience may count against the Italian to begin with.

“I think initially [a lack of experience may count against him] yes,” he added. “It’s important that the best he can he learns the English language and learns the environment within a dressing room in the Premier League.

“To learn the English language initially will be his biggest issue. I like to think he’s been learning already and he’s got a bit of time between now and when he takes over in the summer.  So, initially it may be a problem, but in time he should be okay.”

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