New Chelsea boss Antonio Conte admits he’s inherited a club in a “very strange” situation as he looks to rebuild the Blues into a European force once again.
Speaking in an interview, the Italian tactician gave a frank assessment of Chelsea’s task ahead, stressing that only hard work would return the club to the upper echelons of the Premier League.
“The situation is very strange because two years ago Chelsea won the title in England,” Conte said. “And last season we finished in 10th in the table and as a result out of the Champions League, out of Europa league.
“Surely, this is not a good result for our great team like Chelsea. But I think also that now it’s important to forget, to forget the past and concentrate, focus on the present.
“[We must] work really hard in the present to build a great future for us, for the club, for the players, for me, for the fans, for all the people who work in Chelsea. For me it’s important to concentrate to the present and leave the past.”
As he looks to reinvent the Chelsea side, Conte hinted at introducing a new series of tactics while warning that the system he used to great success at Juventus might not fit at to Stamford Bridge.
“In my mind there is an idea about what system we’ll play. We are working about this idea,” he said. “It’s important for the coach when you arrive to understand the players and to understand every single player’s strength and their weakness. It’s important for me to exalt my players in their strengths and to try and cover their weakness, no?”
Likening himself to a tailor, he continued: “When you work with your player, you must prepare a good coat. It’s important because I can have an idea.
“For example, at Juventus I rode with my idea to continue the 4-2-4 [with which] I won two championships with Bari and Siena. And when I arrived [at Juventus] and I saw that it was [Andrea] Pirlo and [Arturo] Vidal, I understand we can’t play in this system, so I changed to 3-5-2, 3-3-4.
“It’s important to understand this and also it’s important to have principles of the play and then you must build, create a good team with a good idea of football.”
Conte stressed that he would adjust his system to fit his players, rather than the other way around.
“I adapt my idea of football to my players, not adapt my players in my idea of football,” he said. “It’s important because there are others players that must play. The players are the most important things in football. I adapt my idea within my players.”
Chelsea have made two signings this summer, with former Marseille frontman Michy Batshuayi joining N’Golo Kante as the new faces in Conte’s squad.
The former Italy manager is keen to bring in a few more players, but said the club must wait for the “right situation” to materialise before spending more money.
“They are good signings, sure. Batshuayi is a young player but very strong,” Conte said. “Last season he scored 17 goals in France. Also he played the last tournament in France, the Euro.
“He’s very young, but great potential. He uses both feet, very fast; good technique and I think he’s a good buy for Chelsea.
“Also, Kante was a target for Chelsea, my target, Chelsea’s target. It’s important that we close these operations.
“Now we are waiting for the right situation to improve our team but it’s important now to work very hard to try to play an attractive football with high intensity. Now it’s important to work, then in the future, we’ll see.”
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