It would’ve taken something even more spectacular for Chelsea and Antonio Conte to reach or exceed the heights of last season. The trouble unfortunately isn’t that the heights weren’t reached, it’s that barring a miracle, the fall has been more precipitous than the minimum requirements would allow — even if Chelsea win the FA Cup, which is by no means guaranteed. And while I’d be very curious to see what would happen if Spurs did spurs their way out of the top four in the final four matchweeks, I’m not exactly holding my breath.
Plus, we’ve been told all season that this will be Conte’s final season at Chelsea. Even before all the constant (drummed up?) drama. More recently, we’ve been told that Chelsea are looking for something different and fresh in the head coaching position. Given that the supposed front runner is Maurizio Sarri, who’s won nothing, maybe we shouldn’t be so hasty in discarding yet another proven winner.
Because make no mistake, despite the narrative of “defeatism” and “negativity” and [insert your own limited viewpoint], there is only one thing that Conte lives for. Winning. It may not have happened for him this season, for the first time in five years as a club manager, it may not have ever been smooth sailing (even when a pretty picture was painted in public comments), but winning is his aim, just like in the song.
“I play only to win. I don’t play to enjoy. I play only to win, I try to transfer this mentality to my players. Every season I start with just one idea in my mind. In my mind, heart and soul must be this winning mentality.”
The enjoyment comes from winning, as he reflected many times during last season’s title run-in. So this second season has been far less enjoyable. And that probably has shown through in many aspects, on and off the pitch, behind the scenes and in front of the microphones. But what’s done is done. Conte or no Conte, improvements must be had, both everyone involved, including Conte himself.
“If I win something, I did my job. It’s not something special. If I don’t win I’m very angry with myself but at the same time, I’m ready to work harder to try and win something.”
One thing Chelsea did not win last season was the FA Cup, which concluded the season with a highly disappointing loss to Arsenal in the final. Regardless of what may come this summer, Chelsea and Conte have their shot at redemption in that respect.
“I must be honest, I think that last season we missed a great chance to win the FA Cup.
“For sure we could have done better because we had a great opportunity to win the FA Cup and this season I think that if we can win against Southampton, in the final it will be even more difficult.
“Last season we were in the best condition to win the FA Cup and we missed the chance. It was our fault. Last season, in the final, I think that we could do better. In that moment we were stronger than them.”
But first we’ll have to get through Southampton. And then we can worry about Manchester United.
“If we are the team who played the first half [last Saturday against Southampton], we must be concerned, really concerned.
“But if we go and play with the right team spirit like we did for the last 30 minutes then I think it’s possible to reach the final. My players must know this. I think we only have one way to go, to go to the pitch with the right fire in our eyes.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Mail
Work work work. The only word we know.
Time to work.