Friday’s press conference was one of the more boring and useless ones in recent memory, so it’s a bit surprising that the quotes coming out of the off-cameras portion of it are actually somewhat interesting. Did they fire all the journalists in the break and bring in new ones once the cameras were off?
In any case, here’s Conte talking about the midfield genius that is Cesc Fàbregas, comparing him to the one player we all immediately thought of once we learned that Conte would be appointed Chelsea head coach.
“Cesc is a top player and is a genius at football. I can talk in the same way about Andrea Pirlo. Cesc if he doesn't run 100 metres in 10 seconds, I can allow him this, because he's a genius with the ball. His velocity is in his mind.”
Cesc himself has recently talked about how modern football is starting to emphasize the physical over the mental aspects, though in fairness, that’s hardly a recent phenomenon.
Conte can also “allow him this” because Fàbregas is not a starter, at least not in the 3-4-3. Maybe if we switched to a 3-5-2, Fàbregas would operate in the deep-lying playmaker spot a la Pirlo, but for now, that’s not our m.o. So he remains an impact sub and an occasional spot starter and one gets the feeling that he’s not going to be much more than that anytime soon, despite this high praise from the boss.
(Plus, he shaved off his beard. You can’t play the Pirlo role without a Pirlo beard!)
“Sometimes you must make the decision and to look the balance of the team. And sometimes you must make different decisions. For me Cesc is an important player, and I try to put him always in the best condition to give us his best for the team.”
“Don't forget in his place is playing Kante. A lot of people spoke that he is the best player in the league. Then there is Matic that I think is playing in an outstanding way.”
“When you have two players in front of you playing so well it's not easy. It's the same for Willian and Pedro. For me, sometimes it's very difficult to sleep and to make the best decision.”
“But I prefer to have this type of problem. The most important thing is these players are totally involved in the team. Cesc is playing with us and is very important for the team.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Sky
Fàbregas has handled this new situation for him with the utmost of professionalism but it remains to be seen if he stays with Chelsea beyond this season. If he doesn’t, at least we need to make sure to send him out as a winner.