It’s fair to say that when Chelsea confirmed that Antonio Conte would be the new Chelsea manager for the start of this season a few eyebrows were raised, not in regards to Conte’s managerial ability, as he has won the Serie A with Juventus the last three years in a row, but more in regards to his style of play.
Having run out of patience on former manager Jose Mourinho for a second time, you wouldn’t have blamed Chairman Roman Abramovich for going with a manager who favours a more attacking style of play. Instead, the appointment of Conte offer’s more of a defensive outlook for Chelsea, somewhat similar to that of Mourinho. This was further proved when left-back Baba Rahman was shipped out on loan as he was ‘too attacking’ and that Conte prefers a more defensive approach.
Whether Conte’s philosophy is to park the bus or go all-out attack, his main priority will be two reinstall the confidence within the Chelsea camp. World class player’s like Eden Hazard, Cesc Fabrgegas, Nemanja Matic, Branislav Ivanovic, Thibaut Courtois etc. seemingly, and somewhat suddenly lost all sense of form from the offset of the 15/16 season and were accused of showing a lacklustre attitude and giving up mid-way through the season.
What is clear to see is a very passionate figure on the touchline, which is sure to get the fans going as well as the players. This became apparent when Diego Costa’s late winner against London rivals West Ham on the first game of season saw Conte celebrating in the crowd.
So Conte’s influence on the touchline is clear to see, but what has he changed behind the scenes? It’s hard to say so early on in the season, but what has become apparent is that the Italian is willing to give previously overlooked players a chance, albeit from the bench. The players like Victor Moses who’s been shipped out on loan more times than what he can remember has made a couple of appearances already this season, just when his Chelsea career seemed over. In addition to this, youth graduates such as Reuben Loftus-Cheek and Ola Aina have been included in every match-day squad so far this season as well.
Conte’s new signing’s also suggest a more energetic and pacey approach to Chelsea’s side. The no-brainier signing of N’Golo Kanté had proved to be a success already and the £30 million signing of Michy Batshuayi has already pressed Diego Costa two raise his game as he’s scored two in two already, with the Belgian Batshuayi scoring himself in the EFL Cup against Bristol Rovers.
In regards to how Chelsea’s season will pan out, a lot will come down to how far Conte can have his side motivated for the whole season. With the signings of Kante and Batshuayi adding competition for places, as Conte’s passionate personality and managerial experience/know-how, you can only see Chelsea challenging for the Premier League trophy come May.
With the new ‘respect the ref’ rules and an amazing new match ball, whoever wins the Premier League will deserve it and with so many teams capable, it makes for an exciting season.