Antonio Conte has provided a managerial masterclass at Chelsea… they must do everything in their power to keep him

Updated: May 19, 2017
Chelsea, Football

Securing the Premier League title this month, and with the proposition of winning the League and FA Cup Double in his debut season of British football, Antonio Conte has been a shining star in an otherwise dull season of Premier League football. But how does the Chelsea boss rate when scrutinised under the sporting microscope?

After taking the Italy to the quarter-finals of Euro 2016 before being eliminated by Germany on penalties, news of Conte’s expected arrival at the London club brought with it optimism, excitement, but at the same time an air of doubt, as many were unsure how the 47-year-old would perform abroad. However, even the most hopeful of Chelsea fans couldn’t have expected a first season such as this.

With big name signings being brought into other clubs during a record-breaking summer transfer window, Conte decided to make some of his own with the signing of Premier League winner N’Golo Kante being the main talking point. A title winner at Leicester City and renowned for being the workhorse in the engine room of midfield, the French midfielder brought with him an unrivalled hunger to succeed, along with fantastic technical ability that would eventually be the key to Conte’s title triumph.  

Whilst the arrival of Kante encouraged fans to believe, the re-signing of David Luiz understandably raised many eyebrows. Previously at Chelsea, the Brazilian centre back was clearly talented, but his erratic decision making and poor discipline is what led to his departure to PSG in the first place and therefore his return was questionable to say the least. But like so many times in his managerial career, Conte displayed the ability to turn average defenders into world-class centre backs and Luiz’s critics were silenced.

A mixed start to the Premier League season saw the Blues perform well to pick up points against lesser opposition but struggle against other title challengers, most notably losing 2-1 at home to Liverpool and 3-0 away to rivals Arsenal. Over time pessimism started to creep in but his change to playing three at the back offered dynamism and a fluidity that had been lacking from a talented Chelsea side, and their 4-0 victory over Manchester United – whom were managed by ex-Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, signalled Conte’s intent for the rest of the season. Positivity in results followed and with that so did Chelsea’s surge to the top of the Premier League table.

Come the turn of the year the Blues were six points clear at the top on 49 points, and with a matchwinning streak stretching back to October, it looked as if no team could match them as they stormed to their third title in six years. While the arrival of Conte and his coaching team brought new ideas and an injection of life into a side that disastrously underachieved the previous season, the reinvigoration of Eden Hazard was perhaps the biggest and most effective difference.

Under Mourinho’s tenure last year, Hazard was arguably the biggest disappointment in a season full of them. His ability to take defenders on in one-on-one situations was non-existent, confidence appeared to be at an all-time low, and the killer instinct so often associated with the Belgian winger had completely disappeared. In contrast, under the guidance of Conte he has been back to his best, if not better. With 15 League goals and five assists, Hazard has endeared himself to the Stamford Bridge faithful once again, but with heavy interest from abroad only time will tell whether he will be at Chelsea for the 2017-18 season.

Conte’s Chelsea wrapped the title up with two games to spare, despite a late surge from rivals Spurs, and with that the six-times league champions have their sights set on doing the Double as they travel to Wembley in the FA Cup final against Arsenal on May 27. While celebrations will surely follow to celebrate their domestic success, the achievements under the Italian mustn’t be underestimated.

Conte has provided English football with a managerial masterclass this season and his energy, unrivalled passion, and touchline craziness, along with turning Chelsea into a more likeable club all-round, has made the London club a joy to watch. The Champions League will provide a fresh challenge but his willingness to constantly adapt in challenging circumstances gives Chelsea fans hope of becoming a dominant European force once again. His arrival brought with it a breath of fresh air and now Roman Abramovich must do everything in his power to keep hold of Conte for years to come.

By Ryan Walker

This image was provided by Indolivescore ils.

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