By : Emmanuel Opoku Adu-Tutu
Faces were filled with disappointments on Saturday night, as Italy failed to replicate what they were able to do four (4) years ago. Hector’s penalty marked the last time Antonio Conte managed the Italian national team, at least for now.
The former Tuscan continues his adventure elsewhere in a foreign land for the first time in his career as a coach, after formerly picking up coaching roles at Siena and Juventus. London is his next destination, where he takes charge of Chelsea Football Club.
Having won the heart of many football fans after showing his tactical knowledge and energy down the touch line, the Italian will now have to prove to the Chelsea fans, who never accept defeat, that he is the right man for the job.
A great task lies ahead of him as he has to change the fortunes of a club that placed 10th on the EPL league table last season. A situation like this is not new to the Italian, after picking a 7th placed Juventus to win three consecutive Serie A titles. Conte is now expected to replicate in a similar fashion
Life outside Italy
Moving out of Italy will seem to be a major challenge for the Italian. He will be missing the wild Italian fans but on a flip side, he will be working with a much more energetic and noisy Chelsea fans, who are elated after his capture and in high expectant mood after his tactical exploits at Euro 2016.
One major thing Conte will be missing is the magnificent Italian wall, which he built and has been in full force for 5 years now. The Italian wall, dabbed BBBC (Gianluigi Buffon [in post], Andre Barzagli, Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci) conceded just a goal (as a pair) at the EURO 2016 finals. The wall has tended to be one of best defensive pairs in Europe today and has been the backbone of the famous 3-5-2 formation used by the Italian gaffer.
New Life at Chelsea
Chelsea now has a coach most Italians describe as “Brilliant-but-crazy”, who goes by his strict orders. There was a time at Juventus, when he had to take off Mauro Krasiç off the pitch, few moments after coming on as a substitute, because he felt the player was doing the opposite of what he has been instructed to do. Most football fans can’t wait to see the former Azurri coach sitting at the sideline of Chelsea, another team in blue.
A lot of debates have been raised as to whether the 3-5-2 formation will fit in the EPL but the truth is, the formation has been tested in the Champions League, World Cup and European level against English clubs not only by Conte, and in most of the situations, the formation has proven successful.
At Chelsea, Conte will get enough money to buy any player he wants, something he couldn’t get at Juventus. He once said “Can you eat at a €100 restaurant with just €10 in your pocket, can you?” He asked in a recorded statement, when he was trying to compare Juventus transfer strategy and the kind of trophies the club wanted.
A lot of names have been brought up as possible transfer target for the new manager, but it all boils down as to whether the players in question will respond very well to his favourite 3-5-2 formation. A lot of players will have a position switch, if the former Bianconerri manager chooses to play the 3-5-2 formation, a formation he has used for the past 5 years and proven successful.
Players like Hazard, Pedro and Willian will have to switch from the wings to a more central role, since the formation requires wingers who are good in defense also. Players like Baba Rahman, Juan Cuadrado and Azipilicueta will get the opportunity to operate on the wings, since they like to surge forward and have good attacking prowess and crosses.
A major headache for Conte will be to get a solid back three (3) like he had at Juventus and Italy. A lot of speculations have sprung up about him acquiring Bianconerri defender Leonardo Bonucci at Chelsea to help in building a strong back line, since he has had experience in the formation over the years. To succeed at Chelsea, the Italian will have to build new steel from Kurt Zouma, Garry Cahill and the aging John Terry at Stamford Bridge next season.
Though a lot of great coaches will be taking post at various clubs in the premiership next season, Conte is expected to replicate his tactical acumen at his new club looking at his capabilities. The ‘Fino Alla Fine’ (Until the end) spirit has been something that has really helped him over the years and that is just what the Chelsea players need.
A lot is expected from him, and it will be a curved ball to see the Italian fail in thePremier League.