Antonio Conte prescribed “work, work, work” in order to lift Chelsea back to the top table of English and European football.
Former Juventus head coach Conte addressed the media for the first time as Chelsea boss on Thursday, 24 hours on from taking his maiden training session with the club.
He takes the reins from veteran tactician Guus Hiddink, who shepherded Chelsea to a 10th-place finish long after their title defence unravelled last season – Jose Mourinho was sacked in December as the club hovered improbably above the relegation zone.
“We know that this year won’t be easy for us,” said Conte, who was named as Mourinho’s long-term successor in April, before overseeing Italy’s run to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016.
Antonio Conte is here at Stamford Bridge… https://t.co/LcLtkoJKBQ
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) July 14, 2016
“If we think of last season, 10th position; last season was a bad season. We know that – me, the players, the club. We must think of the present, to work very hard every day every week, every month to be something more important.
“The fans need to find a team ready to fight until the end to compete with the other teams. I know that there is only one team who can win the title but we must stay there at the end of the season to fight for the title.
“Chelsea belongs in the Champions League and we must [return and] stay there.
“The most important message is I like to work – I know only this road to win and to get this club back very soon to play in the Champions League and win the title.
“I know only this verb – work, work and work I am happy because I found the right attitude [at Chelsea’s training ground] in Cobham, I am very happy for this.”
Conte found success with Juventus and Italy by employing a rigorously drilled tactical system, using three centre-backs.
Nevertheless, the 46-year-old insists he is not wedded to this approach and will find a system to suit the players at his disposal.
“When I was in Italy I liked to say that the manager, the coach is like a tailor – you must find the best dress for the team. You must respect their characteristics, the talent of the players and then you decide.
“In the past I started the season with my teams with one idea of football and then I changed it because I saw that some of these things, for the players, were not good.
“There at the back, four at the back – it is not important for us. What is important for us is the right spirit of the team if we want to compete for the title, and to give good organisation and good training in the tactical and physical aspects. I think I can improve my players a lot.”
Conte was asked to give himself a nickname following Mourinho’s famous move to dub himself The Special One during his initial Chelsea news conference, but the Italian was keen to leave this to his critics in the press over the coming weeks and months.
“I’m not very good to find a different name for me,” he added. “I hope that during the season I give you this opportunity to find a new name for me.
“I hope it is a good name, not a bad name.”
Chelsea fly out to Austria on Friday ahead of their opening pre-season fixture versus Rapid Vienna, while they host West Ham on August 15 to begin their Premier League campaign.