May 8, 2017

Carra On Conte's Challenges  (Sky Sports)

Antonio ConteJamie Carragher reflects on the challenges Antonio Conte has faced by changing the system that Chelsea play following their Monday Night Football victory over Middlesbrough.

The Blues are just one win away from clinching the Premier League title after a 3-0 victory against Boro in what is the Italian's first season in charge at Stamford Bridge.

His debut campaign in England has seen Conte make Chelsea switch to a back three - a system which had been rarely tested in the English top flight before his arrival but has since been adopted by a number of other clubs.

After Chelsea's victory, Carragher reflected on the new tactics employed by Conte, and how it could have gone differently for him if the results had not been so positive.

"You ask most players if they like doing tactical stuff day in and day out and the answer will be no. There will be less of that next year because there will be more games," he told Monday Night Football.

"It's his first season so there has been more opportunity to do that but the fact that they are winning helps the players to keep doing it. When things aren't going well, you come to the training ground and think 'oh we're doing tactics again'.

"It would have been interesting if it hadn't gone as well this season and doing that type of training. Players, especially at Chelsea, aren't shy in letting you know at times when they're not happy at a manager coming in.

Antonio Conte went to clap the travelling Middlesbrough supporters after their relegation was confirmed on Monday
"It shows what a manager Conte is, going into a club and doing that type of training which could cause a problem with players.

"The fact that he's changed the system, it is a big thing to do, and to get players to really buy into that so early in your reign at a club and then to go on and do what they've done, it just shows the respect they have got for him, about his tactical set-up and how they go about things day in, day out and it is obviously working.

"It is not an easy thing as a manager to do that, especially with players as big and successful as them."

Gary Neville was also quick to praise Conte for his passionate displays and remarking that he did not think Chelsea would be Premier League winners this season.

"Every fan wants to see passion from a player or manager. They want to see that they care and that it matters when they lose, when they win and that they are sharing the same experiences with the fans. I think Conte does that," he said.

"The feeling I had at the start of the season is that they wouldn't win the league this year. We both said one of the Manchester clubs would win it, but he was picking up an experienced Chelsea squad.

"Thinking about his Juventus and Italian teams, they were always experienced. I can't think of loads of young players being in those squads. I always think of him wanting those hardened type teams.

"The one big thing that surprised me was the signing of David Luiz, I never for one minute thought he would be a Conte type player. The way in which he has got Luiz playing, I think he has got his game simplified a lot more, he has got the two lads sitting in front of him so he is protected and he has got Luiz doing what he does best.

"The challenges for Chelsea next year is to get the likes of Eden Hazard and Diego Costa to respond again, they have dipped off in the previous two seasons, but he should enjoy this next week because it is a wonderful achievement that none of us predicted at the start of the season. They have looked like a champion team for about six months."

The Soccerlinks Hit List