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Antonio Conte: Maybe we missed the Champions League this season because we tried to play very open.

Antonio Conte was in high spirits as you can imagine having just finished his fifth season in-a-row with a trophy as manager/head-coach. ...


Antonio Conte was in high spirits as you can imagine having just finished his fifth season in-a-row with a trophy as manager/head-coach. He gave an open and honest appraisal of our season. 

I have read and heard plenty of opinion of football fans in the last few days claiming that the FA Cup was a poor and disappointing game. Maybe for the neutrals it was but for Antonio Conte it was a chance to salvage something from our season having learnt from mistakes made this year.

Now, if you were to ask the Chelsea faithful on how we were to approach the game ahead of kick-off then I would imagine the vast majority would have called for Conte to play with the three-man midfield that had impressed winning three games on the spin and then beating Liverpool afterwards (good knows why we changed to play Huddersfield and Newcastle).

Antonio Conte delivered the right formation giving the right players their roles and instructions which were carried out exactly as planned defensively, and we won the game.

Speaking afterwards, Conte was asked of this season and of his situation at the club. He had previously reaffirmed his intention to stay here but acknowledged that it was up to the club to make the decision. He said:

"It’s not simple, it’s not simple to answer this question.

For sure, when you decide to take a coach like me, you must know who you are taking, who you are charging for this job. I repeat, as I said before, I cannot change my personality, I cannot change my idea of football. I can find the right way to win this trophy, for sure.

If you ask me if we can play better then, yes, we can play better. But now the real situation of this club is this: we have to play strong defensively if you want to win a trophy or to get a place in the Champions League. 

Maybe we missed the Champions League this season because we tried to play very open and in this moment you can’t do this especially with a strong team because to concede three goals in seven games it means you don’t have stability. A great team doesn’t concede three goals or four goals against Watford. 

Then, against Manchester United, it was the only way, the only way to lift a trophy. Now we are in this moment and if you want to change then we can change our idea, but you must change many players. Understand?”

Listen, I would have bitten your hand off to win the FA Cup heading into the game so I don't care how we played. We got the job done and salvaged something from a difficult year.

As for playing this way moving forward? Well in the big games I cannot see anything wrong with it. Jose Mourinho will argue that there was only one team trying to play in the second half which is fair enough but what does he and Manchester United have now in the trophy cabinet this year?

I still think we can be solid at the back and free-flowing playing a 4-3-3 formation to which I think this particular squad of players are built for. However, the message from Conte is clear, if we want to stick with him next season and ensure that we do not concede the amount of goals we have this year, then there needs to be a major overhaul of the squad this summer with plenty leaving and plenty coming in.

Do you have a problem with how we played in the FA Cup Final on Saturday and could it be the benchmark for next season?

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