Antonio Conte restored Juventus to greatness and put them in a dominant position at the summit of Italian football in his three seasons in charge there. After Chelsea’s dismal campaign last year, the Italian has come into Stamford Bridge and turned virtually the same set of players who failed last season into almost dead certs for the title this time. In the long term, Conte could turn Chelsea into an untouchable force in the Premier League, in the same way Juventus are in Serie A.
Conte’s arrival in England was overshadowed by the appointment of Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. The former Barcelona boss was widely considered to be the best manager in the world, and it was expected by many that he would storm in and do what he always does; win everything. But the Catalan has been struggling while Conte has made a smooth transition to the English game. Conte struck on his perfect formula- the now famous 3-4-3 formation which could become hugely popular in the years to come- and stuck with it. While Guardiola has tinkered with his City squad, Conte has discovered a core unit and is making as few changes to it as possible.
It is clear that the new Chelsea boss knows what he is doing, and Chelsea should now progress to the title at a canter. Following the 2-0 defeat of Hull City (see video above) in which Chelsea were heavily backed to breeze through, the Blues were on 55 points. No team have ever failed to win the league after picking up that many points from their opening 22 games.
Diego Costa returned from his back injury to score against the Tigers, and it looks as though the Chinese speculation was just paper talk. The Spanish striker has been in imperious form this season, and is key to Chelsea’s title challenge. Conte is also rumoured to be looking to bring in Swansea City’s Fernando Llorente as back-up, and he could be a useful acquisition to help with rotation as players get tired towards the end of the campaign.
In his first season in charge Conte has almost certainly secured Chelsea’s ticket to the Champions League next time out. In addition to this he is well on his way to winning the league, and could lead Chelsea to the latter stages of the FA Cup. The early signs suggest that the former Italy manager may have what it takes to be the greatest manager of the Roman Abramovich era, even better than Jose Mourinho. The Portuguese won the league twice in his first spell in charge, but never managed to secure the coveted European trophy.
If Conte can continue this excellent upwards trajectory at Chelsea, and build the squad with some clever signings in the summer, he could be the one to take the London club right back to the top of European football. Conte is still searching for a Champions League medal as a manager; with Chelsea, he has a strong chance of clinching one.