Antonio Conte has revealed that he struggles to sleep after watching his teams lose and says he wants Chelsea to follow the example of Leicester’s team spirit to become challengers for the Premier League title.
Chelsea begin their campaign at home to West Ham on Monday, with Conte hoping to revive the club’s fortunes after the most disappointing season of the Roman Abramovich era and return them to title contention.
The 47-year-old arrived at Stamford Bridge this summer with a reputation as a fierce competitor and serial winner, having claimed three consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus before leading a depleted and limited Italy squad to victories over Belgium and Spain to reach the Euro 2016 semifinals.
“Before games, usually I don’t sleep a lot,” Conte said. “I sleep for two, three, four hours, then, when I wake up, I start to think, to the game, to the situation and often I have a good idea on the tactical aspect in the first hour of the morning. After the game, when I win, I sleep easily. When I don’t win, it’s very difficult for me to sleep.
“At night, I think about the reason why we lost. And sometimes I see the game very quickly — where is the situation that created more difficulty? Which were the players that created more difficulty? Was our tactical plan good or not good? I need to have the reply quickly.
“Lately, I’ve been lucky because I often won with the national team and with Juventus. But when it happened that I lost a game, I needed to think quickly why. For example, when [Italy] lost against Ireland [at the Euros], it happened. We had already qualified, but we lost the game, and I didn’t like this. In the middle of the night, I wanted to watch the match again to understand why we lost.”
The team spirit within the Italy squad was evident throughout their impressive run, and Conte said he now hopes to repeat the feat with Chelsea.
The Italian insisted he has been encouraged by the way the Chelsea squad have responded to his methods throughout a grueling preseason of travelling and double training sessions, and believes Leicester City’s remarkable title run under Claudio Ranieri last season can serve as inspiration for his club’s revival.
Asked how long it would take to replicate the spirit forged with Italy, Conte added: “It’s important to trust in the work; it’s important to create the right spirit with the players, to create a familiar spirit in the team. Every single player must be ready to help his teammate and it’s important for me to create this type of situation.
“It’s not easy after only 20 days, 30 days [of preseason] but, I must be honest, I found the players with the right attitude, with the right behaviour, with the right commitment and I hope in the future we can improve to build on this.
“[Leicester] is a fantastic example and I think the great club must always look at what happened the last season. Leicester and I think Ranieri did fantastic work, fantastic work, and the players did fantastic work, because they created a right spirit and when you watch a Leicester game, you understand this.
“Great feeling between the players. Every single player ready to help his teammate, because he knows that in another situation, his teammate will help him and it’s important to create this if you want to win.
“It’s important to have talented players, it’s important to have fantastic players but it’s important also to create this spirit and the experience of the last year [with Leicester’s success] is the most important thing for all the best clubs.”
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