It’s not exactly clear where this exact Conte quote came from — Simon Johnson doesn’t elaborate in his article for the Evening Standard, which has now been picked up other news agencies like AFP — but it’s a good and happy quote, so let’s have it regardless. (It might be taken from quotes before the break; Conte’s not due to address the media again until later today, Friday.)
“A year ago they didn’t know my idea of football, my physical work and the analysis. It is easier now for me and my job at this point of the season. The feeling is a lot better if you compare now to this time last season.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Evening Standard
“They” being the players, presumably, many of whom are the same, but some of whom are brand new and still adapting (Morata, Bakayoko, Rüdiger, Drinkwater, etc.), which for Conte tends to be a lengthy process. So in that sense, it’s easy to see why he’d be more comfortable, more relaxed than last season, when he had to drill his ideas into the whole squad, then had to re-drill his tactical ideas again after six games when he decided, rather momentously, to switch to the now famous 3-4-3.
It’s a good thing, too, that most of the squad are familiar with these ideas since the time for training will be drastically reduced this season thanks to all the midweek matches and associated travel around Europe. With only two full days between many of these matches, there simply won’t be opportunity for any sort of intense training. Sure, tactical training can consist of walk-throughs and video sessions, too, but there’s no replacement for repetition, especially when Conte’s systems rely so much on “automatisms”. (Bayern head coach Carlo Ancelotti talked quite pointedly about this problem last season, and he at least had a winter break in the Bundesliga!)
Starting with Saturday’s match away at Leicester, Chelsea will tackle seven games in twenty-one days. There won’t be too much travel involved (Atlético away the biggest commitment), but we’ll have two essentially must-win games (given that we will be the home team) against Arsenal and Manchester City this month.
Hope y’all had a nice break. It’s time to get down to work.