The Italian’s Stallions- Front Runners or Horror at the Hurdles?
Posted by Featured Articles | Published on April 6, 2016
Antonio Conte’s imminent arrival at Chelsea Football Club sparks the obvious questions of their competitive nature come the 2016/17 competitive season. This article raises the question whether a once thoroughbred squad under Jose Mourinho now turned into a bunch of weakened donkeys can become stallions on all fronts again under the new Italian manager.
Premier League: Champs to Chumps…to Champs?
Chelsea are set to finish the 2015/16 Barclays Premier League season well outside the top 4 and around the vicinity of 7th-11th place. A mere cataclysm in its own. Wretched home form (only wins against the bottom 4 and Arsenal to boast thus far) has been a rather startling contributor to the Blues’ miserable defence of their own title. The erratic performances against the ‘big’ sides has also been rather distant from their usual exploits against England’s elite; inability to beat teams such as Manchester United and an emphatic defeat at Manchester City support this thesis.
So what does this pose for 2016/17? For starters, Conte’s men will NOT be in any form of European competition (not even the UEFA Europa League) and despite the obvious problems this incurs such as disattracting high profile players (whom may not be persuaded through Chelsea’s ever so flexing financial muscle), it does pose opportunity for Chelsea.
Take Leicester City this season, a truly remarkable story in itself; they have not had the arduous thousand odd mile trips and a congested fixture schedules to contend with which in subsequence allows them to play their best side week in week out- clearly Chelsea’s players on an individual scale are better than Leicester City (no bias here…) so surely wouldn’t this be a major advantage? You also have a good example in Liverpool in 2013/14 too- though they slipped in the concluding games to 2nd, they showed to devastating effect (with a lethal strikeforce and tactics that aren’t too dissimilar to incoming Conte…) what a ‘full’ team is capable of with no European obstacle.
On the note of 2013/14, it was quite similar to the situation Antonio faces; Jose Mourinho didn’t have a ‘Mourinho’ team- the identity was absent. Conte faces the same situation; there are hardly many players that scream Conte’s identity of a disciplined, ‘playing for the shirt’, highly intense that he must surely implement in order to get a fine tune. And once that tune, that winning muse, is found- you know the team will succeed. Therefore, it may take a season or so- like it did for Mourinho to mould a side into champions.
What Conte must do, in order to establish Chelsea’s once fearful presence in the League, is quite simple; refine home form (top four sides usually average around 30-35 points at home) in order to creep into European’s elite stage again as well as bringing the challenge to the challengers such as United, City and Liverpool (etc.) and if done well, who’s to say that Chelsea cannot challenge for the title once again? Could it be that the Chelsea’s rollercoaster three seasons could go in the pattern of champions, chumps…champions?
Usually- within the Abramovich era- whenever Chelsea don’t succeed in the League (by ascending to its summit come it’s crescendo), they pick up domestic silverware.
Finding rather dominant success in the FA Cup (the Blues lifting the oldest club competition 4 times from 2007-2012) and beginning to make way in the League Cup again can only pose as very tempting jewels for Conte to put into Chelsea’s rather bare crown of present.
In my opinion, Conte’s best chance of silverware comes within these two competitions. With this considered however, there will be palpable pressure on the man to make sure the squad is healthily rotated within these competitions- allowing youth players opportunity to impress. This balancing act coupled with Roman Abramovich’s constant hunger for Chelsea to spearhead an era of domination both domestically and continentally will definitely be something intriguing to see unfold. With not a great domestic cup record in Italy, can Conte become a domestic god in England?
Front Runners or Horror at the Hurdles?
2016/17 will be one to watch for Chelsea Football Club; a team once a well bred horse that could outrun European champions are mere mules on their very own feeble knees facing European exile and facing being eclipsed by their other English counterparts.
As Conte rushes in come June/July, he’ll have to quickly get this donkey into the starting gate and ready to run. With diets of gojiberries, fizzy drink bans and intensive fitness regimes- the identity of Conte’s Chelsea horse will be a true, thoroughbred Italian stallion.
So, will the Italian’s stallions be England’s once again front runners or will they fall early in a horror at the first hurdles? Only time, and Roman Abramovich’s patience, will tell.