Chelsea fans will be watching Italy with intrigue at the European Championships as their new manager will be coaching the Azzurri. Antonio Conte comes to England under the radar, with the incoming Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho taking the headlines, but that doesn’t mean that the Italian won’t compete with the two bosses of the Manchester clubs. Conte has had a great career in football, and he has done so with hard work. He wasn’t the best player, but played in a successful Juventus side, winning the Scudetto five times, and both European competitions on one occasion each. Meanwhile as a manager, he has two promotions and three Scudettos, while he laid the basis for the Juventus side that reached the Champions League final in 2015.
Conte sees any loss as a failure, with his three Champions League defeats as a player haunting him to this day. He does everything to avoid defeat, and he has been quite successful in doing so throughout his international career. He puts organisation and hard work at the centre of his plans. He expects his players to put in the amount of effort as he did as a player, which leaves no place for luxury flair players, who aren’t prepared to put the work in.
People might be surprised that Antonio Cassano and Mario Balotelli have been left out of the Italy squad, but it isn’t for people that know the Italian coach. They don’t fit into his ethos, and there may be some Chelsea players that find themselves leaving Stamford Bridge for similar reasons. Although Conte is a strict coach, who asks a lot of his players, he doesn’t want them to suffer from self-doubt. He is ensures each player is comfortable in their role, and will put on extra coaching sessions if any player is struggling with what Conte is demanding of him.
The former Juventus boss is pays meticulous attention to the tactical side of the game, which isn’t a surprise given he has managed his whole career in Italy. Although he favoured the 3-5-2 at Juventus, he is tactically flexible and plays to the strengths of the squad. At Bari, he played 4-2-4 with high wingers, and two midfielders who could play at a high intensity. He will know that three at the back has never been carried out successfully in England, partly down to English players being tactically naïve compared to their Italian counterparts. Also the physicality and rapid pace of the Premier League easily leads to players being pulled out of position in such a tactic.
The links to Ranja Nainggolan and Ngolo Kante are interesting as it suggests a return to the 4-2-4, which he deployed in the early part of his managerial career. He may have been influenced by Leicester’s success with a similar tactic, but Conte would look to deploy his wingers further up the pitch. The two midfielders linked are physical and relentless in their styles of play and would complement each other well in a midfield two. Conte will already have a primary tactic in mind, and the Chelsea players will be in for a tough pre-season, as the Italian likes to put on very tactical sessions. This involves both shadow play and the outline of his position, and the role each player needs to carry out. He will then put on games to see his tactic applied, and watch them back later for further analysis.
Antonio Conte is meticulous in his planning, and he will be confident of being a success at Chelsea, despite the competition in the league. He has rarely failed as a player or manager, and although the Premier League is a new test for him, Conte will put everything he has into winning trophies. He will breathe life into the squad at Stamford Bridge and make them tactically very good, something they have perhaps lacked over the last 12 months. Conte will also execute alternative tactical plans, which will make Chelsea the most tactically aware side in the league. Although Guardiola and Mourinho will take the headlines, Conte will more than compete with them.