Following a "very very bad" season, Chelsea have much work to do if we are to achieve our stated aim of finishing top four in the Premier League qualify for next season's Champions League. Saturday's friendly only served to underline that task, with Chelsea looking disjointed, inaccurate, and well off the pace for much of the game against Rapid Vienna, who, in fairness, had been back to training for a month already.
Still, neither the players nor the manager were looking to make excuses and instead will no doubt re-double efforts to get up to speed and get comfortable with the style that Conte's trying to instill.
In his post-match press conference, Conte mentioned that he saw "situations" during the game that reminded him of Chelsea from last season, but when he was pressed on it by the English journalists, he either couldn't or wouldn't elaborate on it. His English may be good already, but maybe not quite good enough to explain himself properly just yet.
Fortunately, he has no such issues in Italian, so when talking with Sky Italia, he did expand on it a little bit.
"I am not angry, I couldn't be considering we only started working together three days ago and were facing an opponent at a more advanced stage than us."
"I really appreciated the effort of all the players. We have to work on a tactical level and find the right solutions for this team."
"We certainly need to work and shake out some skeletons from last season, that is without doubt. In some situations, especially at the start, the team was very deep and too defensive. That's not what Chelsea are about."
"We need to change the mentality in that sense, but I have at my disposal a group of lads who are ready to work."
-Antonio Conte; source: Sky Italia via Football Italia
Chelsea were pegged back at the beginning by the highly motivated locals, who were spurred on by a vocal crowd at their brand new stadium, but even once the Blues settled into the match, they often played too deep, too slow, and misplaced far too many passes. Some of that is pre-season rust, but some of that is a hangover from last season — or in the case of some of the older players, a hangover from their careers so far.
Conte certainly has his work cut out for him to shake all that out of the squad, but he seems confident in the squad's abilities to adapt and with the Board backing him with critical transfers, there's every hope that we can do it.