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Antonio Conte: Forget the past, and focus on the present

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Antonio Conte took the managerial seat at Chelsea to carry out what will be one of the hardest tasks he's ever faced: to recover the team from the worst season for two decades.  Just as he had done with Juventus back in 2011, it's time to snap the club out of our this strange situation.

For Conte, as he's talked about a few times before, the first ingredient in the recipe towards recovery is to leave the past behind, to focus on working hard in the present.

"The situation is very strange because two years ago Chelsea won the title in England. And last season we finished in 10th in the table and as a result out of the Champions League, out of Europa league."

"Surely, this is not a good result for our great team like Chelsea. But I think also that now it's important to forget, to forget the past and concentrate, focus on the present."

"[We must] work really hard in the present to build a great future for us, for the club, for the players, for me, for the fans, for all the people who work in Chelsea. For me it's important to concentrate to the present and leave the past."

One of Conte's best qualities is his tactical adaptability and versatility.  Having used a certain system for many years in Italy, he's now decided to switch to a different system, though one he had used at older jobs, without too much hesitation. In his first press conference as a Chelsea manager, he compared his work to a tailor, who makes the best custom outfits for his clients rather than trying to shoehorn them into a standardized piece.  Only finest Italian suits will do!

"In my mind there is an idea about what system we'll play. We are working about this idea. It's important for the coach when you arrive to understand the players and to understand every single player's strength and their weakness. It's important for me to exalt my players in their strengths and to try and cover their weakness, no?"

"When you work with your player, you must prepare a good coat. It's important because I can have an idea. For example, at Juventus I rode with my idea to continue the 4-2-4 [with which] I won two championships with Bari and Siena. And when I arrived [at Juventus] and I saw that it was [Andrea] Pirlo and [Arturo] Vidal, I understand we can't play in this system, so I changed to 3-5-2, 3-3-4."

"It's important to understand this and also it's important to have principles of the play and then you must build, create a good team with a good idea of football."

"I adapt my idea of football to my players, not adapt my players in my idea of football. It's important because there are others players that must play. The players are the most important things in football. I adapt my idea within my players."

In addition to the club's unprecedented success during the ownership of Roman Abramovich, Chelsea have built one of the best youth set-ups in the sport. With an Academy filled at all age groups with some of the most promising players from England and abroad, Chelsea have translated their hard work into multiple trophies at the youth level.  But at the same time, it's proven quite difficult for these talented prospects from the Academy to break into Chelsea's first-team, even after proving themselves on loan deals. We'll see if Conte will be able to truly change this paradigm, but he is saying all the right things, which is a good start.

"Yeah, it's important [to have Academy players in the first team]. Because Chelsea has a fantastic academy. There are many players with a good prospect for Chelsea. I don't know why in the past a few players have played with the first team. But I think that the academy is a great source for the manager of the first team."

"It's important, also, that the young players must show to play in the first team. But I love to play with the young players and to improve them. It's important to have good quality to improve and to show that a young player can play with the first team.

"I haven't any problem with the choice to take a young player in the starting 11. For example, [Paul] Pogba. Pogba arrived at Juventus and he was only [19] years old and after three months he played in the starting 11."

-Antonio Conte; source: ESPN

Hard work, adaptable tactics and giving youth players a chance — thus far, Conte has hit all the right notes to get everyone excited for the upcoming season. Hopefully the optimism and the good intentions will last for a good long while.

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