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After much anticipation and speculation, Chelsea confirmed the signing of Antonio Conte on Monday evening, with the highly coveted manager taking charge upon the culmination of European Championship.
Given he is mooted as Jose Mourinho’s spiritual successor, he will likely set Stamford Bridge abuzz.
What he is known for
Despite winning one Champions League title and five Scudetti in his playing career, the Italian pragmatist had only a little success early into his managerial career as he faced the axe merely days after being named manager of then-Serie B club Arezzo. It took him stints with three other Italian outfits and two promotions to Serie A to earn a move back to Italian juggernauts Juventus, whom he had played 13 seasons for.
Known for his proclivity for hard work, sweat, and sacrifice, he will look to instill the same in the mentally relegated Chelsea side.
In addition, he is widely believed to be a disciplinarian and a perfectionist, who squeezes the best out of his personnel by hook or by crook, and the incident which saw Gianluigi Buffon get a hairdryer for mentioning a bonus prior to the final game of 2013-14 season underlines the level of professionalism he would expect from the Chelsea players, who only recently triggered Mourinho’s sacking dirtily.
What his tactics can be
Superficial observers brand him as a tactically stubborn manager though tactical stubbornness has never been a trait of any top-level manager. The 46-year-old gaffer successfully deployed an unorthodox 4-2-4 system whilst at Bari, whom he lifted the Serie B title with.
After moving to Juventus, he divulged the need for accustoming both Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal into the Bianconeri lineup made him espouse the fabled 3-5-2 set up at Juventus Stadium.
Given his tactical flexibility, the Blues may proceed to play their tried and tested 4-2-3-1 formation; however, with Roman Abramovich expected to hand him a huge transfer kitty to revive his club, he may recruit strong and pacy players who would suit his style — relentlessly pressing high up the pitch.
How Chelsea’s transfer window will pan out
With John Terry’s future up in the air, Conte’s arrival will likely not help his cause as his stint with Juventus saw Alessandro del Piero released despite the player claiming to be willing to carry on.
In addition, he will take decisions over the future of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa as the former looks unsettled with Paris Saint-Germain sniffing around and the latter attracting interests from former club Atletico Madrid.
He will also be assigned the task of tempting Thibaut Courtois to thwart the advances of Real Madrid.
What the fans can expect
The Italy national team coach took over Juventus, with Champions League football being a distant dream as Juventus had just finished seventh twice in a trot.
With 10 points separating fourth-placed Manchester City and Chelsea, he will take the reins at the London club under similar circumstances.
However, Chelsea faithful can rejoice as he transformed Juventus into a superpower by improving their performances and results in leaps and bounds; Juventus proceeded to clinch the league title thrice in three seasons.
What the fans should be wary of
Many pundits are criticizing Abramovich’s decision to sign Conte stating dressing room fallout is possible, given his likeness to the self-proclaimed Special One.
“If the players have downed tools before there is every suggestion that, with Conte being a similar type to Mourinho, they will down tools again,” former Chelsea forward Chris Sutton said.
However, despite his combative nature, his players have always heaped praise on him, with Buffon even lauding the manager after being yelled at in front of the roster as he claimed that his hairdryer treatment goaded the lads to drub Cagliari by a three-goal margin.
Besides, Paul Pogba and Vidal — both men linked with a summer move to Chelsea — have declared that they had learned the most from him. His backing has also largely been accredited to Carlos Tevez’s excellent goal-scoring form with the Old Lady.
The Russian owner should be enough to axe the players and not the same crop of players if a Chelsea manager again loses the dressing room.
Written by Praveen R. Paramasivam
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