Antonio Conte finally began his duties at Chelsea last Wednesday following an impressive run with Italy whom he guided to the semi-final of UEFA Euro 2016.
The eccentric Italian showed his squad just how physically and tactically demanding he can be, following his first training with the boys at Cobham.
Chelsea began the 2015/16 season as reigning champions but failed to sparkle (it’s a nice way of putting it) as a string of poor results led to the sack of the-then manager Jose Mourinho who was immediately replaced for the remainder of the season by Guus Hiddink. The former champions ended up finishing in a disappointing 10th place, the lowest ever by a reigning champion in the Premier League.
Conte was drafted in by the Roman empire (Abramovic) to help rejuvenate a Chelsea team with damaged confidence, and a mass of players that are suffering from excruciatingly poor form.
Following the antecedents of Conte both with Juve and Italy, the former Azzurri international is sure to have some radical effects on the Chelsea squad.
Here are a few of the things that he will bring to Stamford Bridge:
High energy levels and intensity
Antonio Conte showed with Juventus and also with Italy how he likes to tap into the core of every player’s energy level and bring out the best (physically) in them. The likes of Marchisio and Pirlo were rejuvenated under the Italian as they played their best football, winning everything that is winnable in Italy. Get ready to see the likes of Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabregas, Nemanja Matic (if he stays), Oscar and others fighting more for the ball, showing greater physical strength, and just playing with a much higher intensity than we saw last season.
Plenty of new faces
We all wait and see how Conte will deploy his much publicised 3-5-2 formation but it is certain that there will be changes to the traditional Chelsea set-up. Playing 3 center-halves, 5 midfielders and 2 strikers, it would be natural that some would not fit in or make the fray, and end up being used as fringe players or worse (sold!). The arrivals of N’Golo Kante and Michy Batshuayi makes that more evident.
Animated figure on the touchline
Having a manager scream that he’ll kill you for losing the ball is something Chelsea players should get ready to experience with Conte. The 46-year-old showed a glimpse of how animated he can be as he barked orders and gesticulated to his players during the Blues’ first training session after the break.
Conte will shout orders to his players continuously from the touchline, a feature evident in coaches such as Jose Mourinho formerly of Chelsea and Diego Simeone of Atletico Madrid.
Chelsea back as title challengers
Conte coming into the managerial chessboard in the Premier League will mean that teams should expect a tougher challenge when Chelsea come knocking. Taking points off the Blues will not be as easy as it was last season. In the Premier League where you have 5 or 6 teams who can easily win the title, Conte’s undoubtedly going to have the Blues more towards the top of the pile than the bottom.
More (LOTS more) clean sheets
Conte’s 3-5-2 formation might look easy to penetrate but watch any game managed by Conte and see how rapidly that 3 man defence will transform to 5 or 6 men dropping behind the ball. With a tighter back-line, Chelsea will concede less goals and keep more clean sheets next season.