Chelsea fans were rather skeptical as to how Antonio Conte was gonna adapt to the Premier League.
The former Juventus and Italy national team manager did have some pretty impressive credentials but winning in the Premier League is a whole other story. What’s up, Pep Guardiola?
Antonio Conte came to Chelsea with an intent to succeed and well he bloody came, saw and conquered. Atleast in 2016.
This season started off with a very mixed vibe among the ranks at Chelsea as they had endured a very tough season last time out under Jose Mourinho (who was sacked midway) and then, Guus Hiddink. Conte was given a rich squad with plenty of superstars and most importantly, PFA Player Of The Year from 2014-15 season, Eden Hazard.
Roman Abramovich wanted results, he wanted victories and wasn’t willing to hold back in shelling out the big bucks.
Money wasn’t needed as much as harmony was and that’s EXACTLY WHAT CONTE DID RIGHT.
He used the money in the right places and signed 3 top players where they needed to strengthen their squad by buying N’golo Kante, Michy Batshuayi and Macros Alonso for a combined transfer fees of a little less than 100 million pounds.
Sure, pretty ambitious for a coach in his debut season at a club but Mourinho bought Pogba for 105 million.
The seaon started with with a win and it all looked rosy as the Chelsea squad under Conte looked resolute and snatched two narrow wins in the start of the new season, courtesy of a rejuvenated Diego Costa.
But the season seemed to be in shambles as Chelsea were brushed off by Arsenal and Liverpool in what seemed to be another disaster in the making but things were about to turn pretty quickly and all for the better.
Conte did his homework, played a similar and his trademark formation of 3-4-3 and that homework paid off by some pretty extravagant margin.
The tactical adjustments allowed the maximum potential to be extracted out of top players like Eden Hazard and Diego Costa whereas they also provided a massive boost in the midfield by involving Kante beside Nemanja Matic.
The new formation also gave a chance to Pedro to shine in his new role and new boy Marcos Alonso teamed up brilliantly in the defense with Azpilicueta and Cahill.
The result? 12 CONSECUTIVE wins in the Premier League, which included wins against Leicester City, Manchester City, Manchester United, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur.
Eden Hazard was back to his best after a troubled season, Diego Costa rediscovred his form and the defense was more resolute than ever, with Chelsea boasting one of the best defenses of the season.
What changed and how?
Joes Mourinho’s pragmatic, one-sided, park-the-bus-and-play-defensive-in-big-games approach went out the window, the “us against the world” mentality went out the window, creativity was allowed to be exhibited without any bounds and yet the coach’s flair and style was maintained throughout their games.
Whereas Mourinho wanted to control the team, Conte wanted to lead the team.
And that played a major part in Chelsea’s resurgence.
You can juggle up the statistics all you want, Diego Costa is right now the best striker in the Premier League and Eden Hazard is the overall best player in the league.
Chelsea have yet again emerged as serious title contenders and move into 2017 as league leaders.
Can they go all the way and win the title under Conte’s leadership? We can’t wait to find out!
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Views presented in the article are those of the author and not of ED.