CONTE: "Chelsea players who do not work hard will not play. It’s as simple as that."
The announcement of Antonio Conte signing a three-year contract to join Chelsea this summer really has kicked off all sorts of speculat...
The announcement of Antonio Conte signing a three-year contract to join Chelsea this summer really has kicked off all sorts of speculation and opinion. Here are some of the opinions of ex-teammates, a Chelsea Legend, an ex-Chelsea assistant and two current players of the man Roman Abramovich has entrusted to bring success back to Stamford Bridge.
Fabrizio Ravanelli is first up, an old team mate of our new manager in his playing days at Juventus winning the Champions League He believes that Chelsea have made the right choice. He said:
"Chelsea have made the right choice if they want to win back the Premier League. I think, under Antonio Conte, it's a guarantee. He is one of the most meticulous managers in the world - but also a fighter.
Chelsea have made a great decision. To be honest, when we were together I didn't think he would become a manager.
But when he did start his new career - even if he had endured some difficult times - you could see he was going to be successful.
He always had a great determination. He always had a willingness to make it to the top - and that shows in his incredible rise.
So, I think in his future, there will be a Champions League victory. And I hope for him it's with Chelsea."
So to Gianfranco Zola, the Chelsea Legend is now managing abroad in the Middle East but he has taken time out to speak of Conte and his methods. He believes that his fellow Italian can mastermind a new cycle of success at Chelsea. He said:
"He is a great coach, has done so well in Italy, he has some very good qualities, strong character and is the man who can start a new cycle (of success) for Chelsea so I hope things go well for him.
He has very strong ideas, very determined and is very disciplined. He will bring all these qualities to Chelsea and hopefully he will be able to integrate into the culture.
He has already coached in Italy, all these things, the language, they can influence the results, but he will bring self discipline and determination, as well as tactical awareness and all these things can be good for Chelsea.
Conte is one of those managers like Guardiola, like Simeone, like Mourinho. They have got the careers to manage big teams. The results will tell us whether it is right or not but I really hope so.
I can talk about my experience and it was important for me to go there and not just doing what I used to do in Italy but adapting to the culture and this helped me to blend with the others, to work with the players better and gave me an extra advantage.
I believe Antonio will be very much the same. He will have to bring his own ideas but obviously understand the environment and get into it as quickly as he can.
It’s very much down to the person. You have to get into the language, the culture of the people. It can be very quick, it depends on you. But he’s a very intelligent person so I’m sure it will be very quick and I think he will have the support of a great club and this is very, very important.
I don’t know what exactly Mourinho did and what Antonio will do. Discipline is a very important quality and it’s important that the players recognise this and they behave properly because when you are in a group you have to maintain rules in order to have the right environment.
Antonio knows this very well, he’s been coaching a top club like Juventus for a while and in a way it is similar to Chelsea and I’m sure he’ll find a way to answer the question.”
Steve Clarke speaking recently gave his opinion of the new appointment. Having worked alongside Jose Mourinho, Clarke knows exactly what's needed to be a success. However, he believes that players these days can be "precious" and Conte's apparent combative style would sort things out after a woeful season. He said:
"Most modern managers are a bit more placid and more calm around the players, but it doesn’t do any harm to have a temper on you as a manager.
The players can be a bit precious nowadays, but I think they just have to get on with it.
The Chelsea players owe the club a decent season next year. The fact they’re stuck mid-table this term is not correct. They were champions last season and they should certainly be much more competitive than they are.
And I think with Conte going in there next year, if he does crack the whip the players have just got to respond.”
Now on to two players in Andrea Pirlo who had been playing for Conte up until recently and Andrea Ranocchia who remains in the Italian squad ahead of Euro 2016 this summer. Both tell it exactly like it is and give them an indication of what to expect when he comes in.
Andrea Pirlo said:
"The man can be a beast, a dressing room when he is angry is one of the most dangerous places you can be.
I have been in his dressing room at half-time when we have been winning, but he comes in and will be throwing full bottles of water around because of a mistake we made, or because he feels we should be further ahead.
When Conte speaks, his words assault you. They crash through the doors of your mind, often quite violently and settle deep within you.”
Andrea Ranocchia re-iterated the point Pirlo has made by saying:
“Conte is a big coach and very tough worker. The training sessions are intense and the Chelsea players who do not work hard will not play. It’s as simple as that. That is Conte’s character.
He always works closely with players, talks to them, coaches them, is the boss of the dressing room but he will treats players with respect and the players respect him.”
Very interesting opinions of ex-pro's and current players and all of them speak of his will to win, his discipline and the way he coaches the players. I like the fact that Steve Clarke has called some players "precious" because it seems that some of them are!
You look around the Chelsea squad now and we are at a crossroads. We've taken the last decade for granted relying on the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, Petr Cech and Didier Drogba to ensure people toe the line. We've relied on them in games to pick people up, to drag them through a bad performances to deliver success on a regular basis. They are people that in my opinion did half the managers work for him when it came to discipline within the squad.
Now? I just do not see any of it being honest and that's a remarkable admission. After such a wonderful season last year, breaking the record for being top of the league for the most amount of days for it to go so drastically wrong indicates to me player power causing a divide between them and the Manager and we all know who pays the consequences!
If anything in my view, the appointment of Antonio Conte, with the endorsements we have read above and most importantly of all what Conte demands of his players with discipline being much the focus, it's an admission from Roman Abramovich that there MUST be someone strong enough to get inside that dressing room to sort out the issues and begin to rebuild. Someone who will not take any nonsense from anyone because if they do give him issues, it seems that they will not be around long enough to cause a bigger problem.
The aim for next season simply has to be to get back into the top four as the minimum in order to qualify for the Champions League. If Conte can sort us out with the right moves in the transfer market and develop a system that works for everyone then I believe we have an excellent chance to do it. We can purely focus on the Premier League whereas our main rivals will have European competition to contend with.
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So what do you people think of the appointment now that you have had a couple of days to think about it since it was confirmed? Based on the opinions of those above, is it a good and much needed appointment at the right time?