Antonio Conte spent his Sunday night at Juventus Stadium watching his old team take on one of their arch-rivals Internazionale, and beat them 1-0 courtesy of a tremendous goal from Chelsea loanee (of sorts) Juan Cuadrado. Juventus now have a six-point lead at the top with a game-in-hand over Napoli, a rather similar situation in which Chelsea and Conte find themselves in England.
During his quick visit, Conte stopped to chat with Sky Italia’s cameras and thanks to Football Italia, we have pretty interesting quotes to mull over. (Interesting as in the actual meaning of interesting, as opposed to interesting as a euphemism for controversial or ominous.)
First, Conte talked a bit more about the sideline incident with assistant coach Angelo Alessio, who was the “victim” of the rant about Chelsea poor corner defending.
“When I see something that isn’t going right, I am capable of murdering anyone!”
“I was angry because Kante was supposed to track back in place of Moses, who had gone into the box to mark the sixth Arsenal man on the corner. He didn’t do that and I took it out on Alessio. He’s been my right hand man and thus, unfortunately, my victim for many years.”
Kanté making a mistake? Inconceivable! Though as the coach reveals, like every single other player in the team, there’s room for improvement in Kanté’s game.
“Kante is extraordinary. He brings a lot of quantity, ok, but what quality too. Even if he should improve in his build-up play. His first pass is always horizontal and he needs to make that vertical. I was just like him, so I do understand.”
“He’s a really good lad, always helping his teammates. He’s been a great buy, though he’s often tired by the time he gets to the goal. He’s still young and can improve.”
Conte often brings up the idea that his playing days as not the most skilled player at the highest levels of the game lend him a somewhat different perspective than most coaches, and he’s probably right, especially in cases such as the Kanté one above or managing a league position that so far above everyone at the moment.
“You can’t talk about the title yet, as anything could still happen. Just look at us, Chelsea were struggling at the start and turned the whole season around. We’ve got to stay calm.”
It’s a good thing we’ve got players like Eden Hazard and Diego Costa firing on all cylinders to keep up Chelsea’s challenge without getting drawn back into the chasing group.
“[Hazard] has incredible talent and really balances the phases of the game.”
But what about Costa? Is the “bust-up” or “BLAZING ROW” a real thing (still)?
“I was very clear with [Costa] and raised my voice: and the player understood. Now everything is perfect.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Sky Italia via Football Italia
Perfect! That’s what I like to hear.
UPDATE: That last line about raised voices and Costa is apparently “incorrect”, and has now been scrubbed from the source material.