Winner of 2016/17 Premier League: A look at the before story - July 2016 - Brian Adams
When Antonia Conte, the newly crowned winner of the 2016/17 Premier League, took over the reins at Chelsea Football Club they just finished 10th in the 2015/16 premier league table. They did not win a trophy and didn't qualify for the Champions League and even failed to secure a place in Europe's second-tier Europa League. Chelsea fared very, very bad and this coming from being champions the season before.
Chelsea had a hugely disappointing 2015/16 premier league campaign, with manager Jose Mourinho sacked in December after the team lost nine of their first 16 Premier League matches. Cesc Fabregas said it was the players who had let Mourinho down and that the manager was too generous to his squad after they won the title by eight points the previous season.
“Jose, gave us more holiday because we were champions, he believed in us more, trusted us more, and we let him down,” Fabregas added. “That was the main reason why at the end he had to go. And for that, myself and all the team, felt bad for him.”
“Basking and settling after success, taking for granted the team will win again and not focussing on the basics of what makes a team win is a recipe for mediocrity and failure.”
“From what I've heard... he's disciplined, he's a winner and he's a competitor,” Fabregas said on hearing about the new manager designate. “That's what we need. Someone that will always be on our back to push us and make us work hard, teaching us new things.
“All I know is that he wants to win straight away. No more transition, no more excuses. He wants to win and for that we'll have to be prepared from day one.”
“No more excuses, expect to win, be prepared from day one.”
Enter Antonio Conte, a player turned manager who played more than 400 games for Juventus and who went on to manage Juventus to three successive Serie A titles from 2012 before taking charge of Italy and now ready to take over a club with exceptional talent, but in disarray.
‘From last season we can learn a lot,’ said Conte. ‘It is not easy but you can restart and find a new way. ‘It is very strange to win the title and then, only one year later, you are out of the Europa League and the Champions League. The club don’t like this. Nor do the players because history says in the Abramovich era Chelsea are always in the Champions League.
“Learn from past failure, restart and find a new way.”
‘It is important to get back very soon, to fight for the title, to be there at the end of the season. It is important to be back in the Champions League. Chelsea is a great club and a great club must play in the Champions League.’
‘Some might think Chelsea are not favourites for the title and I think they can be right after last season,’ said Conte. ‘The Premier League is very competitive. We are under-rated and we might slip under the radar but I hope there is a small flame flickering here that can hopefully grow into a blazing inferno.’
“Use what you have as a springboard for building success, turn a small flicker into a blazing inferno.”
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Conte called Carlo Ancelotti and Claudio Ranieri in his first week on the job and plans for further advice from fellow Italians familiar with the demands of Abramovich.
‘I am not afraid if the club sack me,’ said Conte. As for pressure, he said: ‘I was born with pressure.’
“Ask and get advice, do not be afraid of anything, embrace pressure.”
‘The manager is like a tailor, who must make the best dress for the team,’ said Conte. ‘You have to respect the characteristics of the players. Three at the back or four at the back is not important.’
“No silver bullet, work with what you have, respect the opportunity.”
Spirit, physical condition and tactical organisation, however, are vital and hard graft is central to his philosophy. ‘I am a worker,’ said Conte. ‘I know only this road to win. I know only this verb: work, work, work. The players are ready to work and fight. They know last season was very, very bad. Not bad; very, very bad. Every single player knows this and wants to change the story. They want to remove the past.
“Work, fight, hard graft aligned with spirit, physical conditioning and tactical organisation is the only thing that will change the story.”
‘For us the most important thing is to concentrate in the present, to work and to build a great future. To work with passion and enthusiasm and transfer this to our fans.’
“Focus and concentrate on the present work to be done and the future success will take care of itself.”
Read these articles for the after story and
technical analysis of Conte’s winning formula