It was a bizarre end to the game on Saturday as Chelsea were putting the finishing touches on a massive 3-1 win at the Etihad. Several Manchester City players lost their heads, two were sent off (and should now be awaiting multi-match bans), Pep went apoplectic in a rather Mourinho-esque fashion, and it was all a touch uncouth from the supposed best team in the league.
The bizarreness did not end there.
Confirmation Conte left Etihad without a presser. Was ready to go, but Pep kept him waiting. Train to catch & @VirginTrains wait for no man.— Dan Levene (@danlevene) December 3, 2016
The custom for post-match press conferences is that the away team's manager goes first, then the home team's. Sometimes, it goes loser first then winner, but in the league the away team takes the lead, to facilitate their journey home. Not today!
The done thing in such circumstances is to let the away manager speak first, so this is a bit of a cock up by the City media team it seems.— Dan Levene (@danlevene) December 3, 2016
Guardiola went first and took so long that Conte simply decided to pack it up and start heading home. Part of this was due to Chelsea's decision to take the train rather than to fly to Manchester. Premier League rules dictate that unless sent off, managers must conduct post-match interviews. And so, Conte conducted his with Chelsea TV ... on a train! You can't make this up
That's it from a very odd 'press conference': conducted by Chelsea's media department on one train, and sent by sound file to me on another.— Dan Levene (@danlevene) December 3, 2016
BTW, on the unusual decision to train-it to Manchester (Chelsea usually go north via plane): am told they're simply trialling other options.— Dan Levene (@danlevene) December 3, 2016
And so, as Conte held court in a train car, he paid tribute to the character of his players but did not discount the role luck played in the game, especially early on.
"It's a big win and a big result against a really strong team. With the quality of players in their squad I think it's the most complete in this league. For this reason, I am pleased with the result, and with the players. They showed me great character."
"We were lucky at the start of the second half because there was one crossbar, and also a good save from Thibaut kept the result at 1-0. Then we found great strength to score the goal to draw, and then to score the second goal and the third goal."
"It's fantastic this because I repeat, it's not easy to come here and win this game. Now we have to continue."
That character extended to keeping calm in the fracas at the end, and was exemplified by the likes of Cesc Fàbregas, who played in the Premier League for the first time in 10 weeks and provided telling contributions. Conte was "pleased" for Cesc before trotting out his usual line about constant improvement, as he does for all players.
Fourteen games in and nineteen points better off than last year at this stage, Chelsea are clearly flying high and working towards ambitious goals. Conte's not ready to say that aloud just yet however.
"We have to wait for the first part of the season because we know this league is not easy. Now we are playing very well. We are playing good football, we have good confidence, but it's important to continue to work and improve. There is room to improve."
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
Always room to improve. Work hard, fight, improve. The new Chelsea way.