On Monday, Antonio Conte has made a public appearance and broken his silence for the first time since his sacking by Chelsea in the summer.
While he did issue a statement through the League Managers Association a few days after his protracted exit from the club finally was made official in July, he’s since been enjoying his time away from the limelight, letting his lawyers take care of business regarding the as-yet unsettled compensation and other legal fights still happening with the club, and letting his agents (and brothers) stir the pot with regards to any future appointments at Real Madrid or Manchester United or wherever.
But on Monday, he attended Italy’s annual Panchina d’Oro (“Golden Bench”) awards, where Juve boss Max Allegri was once again named Coach of the Year, and could not escape the literal swarm of reporters and microphones.
The obvious questions were asked.
“Do I see myself in an important dugout soon? I see myself at home today. I’m recharging my batteries at the moment, watching a few games and following some of my colleagues.
“Future in Italy? Never say never. I’m Italian, I feel good here and I’d like to work, without excluding going abroad of course.”
-Antonio Conte; source: CalcioMercato via Football Italia
After laughing off a couple comments about Manchester United and Mourinho — saying that he’s not the best person to ask about Mourinho’s latest ... exuberances — Conte addressed the Real Madrid rumors head on. And it sounds like Santiago Solari, who’s made a good go of his interim tenure, in fairness, is safe in his job for now.
“Real Madrid? As I see it, it is better to wait until the end of the season than to take a train running now. I want to wait for June and start again with a new project. In three months I could change my mind and deny everything, but I’ve always thought of it this way.”
-Antonio Conte; source: CalcioMercato via Goal
The unspoken upshot of all this is that any hope Chelsea may have had of solving the (self-created) Antonio Conte headache seems to have completely evaporated.
Conte is suing Chelsea for unpaid compensation (for the final year of the contract) and additional damages totaling up to £20m. Chelsea had hoped that he would be hired mid-season to speed along a favorable resolution, but it’s more likely that this ugly separation will drag on for a while. It’s hard to argue Chelsa’s case, given the pettiness of letting this situation continue on unresolved throughout the offseason and even allowing (nay, expecting) Conte to begin training the squad at the start of preseason before giving him the boot two days later.
The contrast between the good vibes that currently envelop Sarri’s Chelsea and the nastiness of this fight over money with Conte is a discomfiting one. Perhaps a nice Christmas present for all would be a settlement by the turn of the year. Let there be an end to this.