Conte: Chelsea could be champions in my first season
Antonio Conte has claimed his Chelsea side should “fight for the title” as he set the bar high in his first media appearance as the new Blues manager.
Conte’s brief break following the exit of his Italy team from Euro 2016 at the quarter-final stage saw him start work at Chelsea earlier this week and he laid out his vision for the club in a press conference that saw him test out his grasp of the English language in front of the huge gathering of the world’s press.
The former Juventus manager served up an upbeat presentation, as he insisted the team that fell from grace in their defence of the Premier League title last season are ready to bounce back under his guidance this season.
“You must play to win, to win the title, to reach your targets,” declared Conte.
“This year won’t be easy but this situation excites me. We must work every day, every week, because the fans need to find the team ready to fight.
“The Premier League is very difficult, the most difficult in the world. It is high intensity compared to other tournaments. If you want to win, you have to play attractive football but also have good physical condition.
“Usually if you have great organisation and talent with the players, and you run more, you have more productivity to win.
“Last season in 10th was a bad season, but we must think to the present. Chelsea belongs in the Champions League and we must stay there. Seven teams can win the title, but the pressure for me is not important. I was born with pressure. It’s normal.
"I think Chelsea are underrated and we can surprise people. I hope there is a small flame flickering that can turn into a towering inferno."
They were comments that were expected from a coach who demands maximum effort from all around him, with Conte offering up this poetic idea for the way he will embrace his job at Stamford Bridge.
“The coach is a tailor who must make best dress for team. Three at the back, four at the back, it is not important,” he continued.
“We have started to work on different aspects and every manager has their own idea of football. I want to transfer my idea, my methods. This is a great challenge and is the right moment for me to arrive in England. I like this, I like the challenge and to prove myself.
“I like to work and I know only the road to winning and to take the club back to competing in the Champions League and winning the title - work, work, work. I have found the right attitude from the players and I am very happy about this.”
Conte went on to offer some jovial comments reflecting on his extravagant touchline antics, as he admits he struggles to contain his emotions in the heat of a battle.
“I don’t know if it is a good thing but I have a great passion for my team and players,” he added. “I like to stay with my players in training - to play with them, to lose with them. I have great passion and I want to transfer that to my players and fans.
“I suffer during the game, I want my players and fans to see this because we work hard during the week and I am not happy when we don’t reach our target.”
With his English more than acceptable and his smiling manner impressing all present, this was a fine start for Antonio Conte as Chelsea manager.
Now he has to prove himself all over again when the Premier League season kicks into gear.