Whether you believe that moving Conte on is right or wrong, I am sure we will collectively and respectfully thank him for his time at the club, and welcome the new man who comes in.
On a personal level, as many will know, I have grown frustrated with Conte’s negative tactics. I believe that he plays a defensive line that is too deep and too compact. He does not possess the bravery to try and finish an opponent off. He plays with five defenders and uses a cautious style of play, instead of a fluid and fast attack. He will not allow his players to press too high and invites pressure from any opponent who he considers to be better than his own team, which is quite a few.
Conte is stubborn and refuses to make key changes early or take any risks throughout the match. This season we have beaten some good sides using these tactics, but we have also lost many games that we should have won, as well as letting a lead slip by not going on to finish the job.
There is no doubt in my mind that as well as being frustrating to watch, the invited pressure is a huge risk and you need a lot of luck on your side, and a fantastic goalkeeper for that to work. Yes, you can argue that he has won trophies playing this way, but for me, these have been won by fine margins. The season we won the premier league we were not really challenged and were allowed a free run on it. We wouldn’t have won it if Manchester City had the season that they had this year. Manchester United were awful against us in the FA Cup Final, and even still we were left desperately holding on to get the trophy.
I don’t want to watch my team play in that way anymore. Which is why the idea of Maurizio Sarri does excite me. Of course, I do have my doubts about him, his temperament, and the controversy that’s previously surrounded him. Could there be better options? Absolutely. I wanted Leonardo Jardim to arrive, but that now seems unlikely.
But the bottom line for me is I just want to see our team play attractive and attacking football, using a high press. Any manager who comes in and coaches our players to do this is fine with me.
Let me address the stigma that I often hear people claim, ‘but we want to win trophies, and these attractive playing managers have not won anything’. Winning trophies and playing attractive football are NOT mutually exclusive, please don’t be a sheep and follow the consensus on this point, I encourage you to form your own opinion here.
I enjoy the way that Jurgen Klopp plays at Liverpool. He has his players playing high up, pressing high, hunting in packs to win the ball back and playing a fast attacking and fluid game. Very much in the same way that Sarri had his Napoli side playing. Klopp is also in for a very good shot at winning the most major trophy in domestic football this Saturday, the Champions League.
Many would argue that some of the current Chelsea squad are not capable of playing that way, and perhaps that argument does have substance. But then would anyone really have believed that James Milner and Jordan Henderson could play in that system? No, me neither. But they do, and to be fair to them, they actually do it well.
The point is as a head coach; your first job is to coach the players. So, any player can be trained to play that way, it’s a matter of using your stamina wisely, pressing as a whole team, getting to your peak fitness level, and being allowed to be expressive on the pitch and take risks. This can be coached.
Roman Abramovich no doubt wants to see his club play more attractive football, hence why we are linked with managers like Pochettino, Sarri and Jardim. I believe that this signals a change at the club, a new direction regarding strategy and playing style.
As well as some of the players we are being linked with such as Leon Bailey, Robert Lewandowski and Michael Seri, to me, this is a statement that the board want to change the philosophy, if they do of course pull the deals off. These are just rumours at this stage, but being optimistic it appears that the intent could be there, starting with the type of manager they’re allegedly bringing in.
There is also talk of Michael Ballack becoming director of football at the club, suggesting that the board acknowledge that they need more footballing brains within the setup, and they certainly do need that. Changes are needed across the whole club if we are to utilise a new strategy, but there is a genuine feel from within the setup that this could occur over the summer.
If this is the case, even our cutthroat board will need to give the new coaching team time, especially as they will be bringing in a unique style of play for everyone to get used to. We’ll also need to integrate some of the loan army and youth players, so we can use our budget wisely on the 3 or 4 players we need to bring in to help this change, depending on who leaves of course.
What are your thoughts? Let us know!