Despite turning Chelsea’s season around with just one loss in 16 games, Guus Hiddink will be departing his role as interim manager in the summer. Meanwhile, the man who has risen as the favourite to take over the reins in west London has emerged as Antonio Conte.
The current manager of the Italian national team is certainly a big name but largely unfamiliar to English football. Looking set to relinquish his current role after Euro 2016, it appears Conte is set to sign a contract at Stamford Bridge before the end of the season.
However, the 46-year-old could prove a risky appointment for Chelsea.
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One aspect Conte certainly has in his favour is reputation. Having racked up an impressive 269 league appearances for Juventus as a player and garnering 20 international caps, Conte has been ascending the managerial ladder ever since.
The Italian made his return to the Old Lady in 2011 where he led the club to three consecutive Scudettos. It proved a substantial achievement considering the Turin-based side’s last legal Serie A victory had come in 2003.
Conte played a prominent role in resurrecting a club that had slumped into the Italian second division only five years previously. Hence, this earned him the Italy job in 2014 after Gli Azzurri crashed out of the World Cup group stages that year.
Consequently, Chelsea are lining up a manager who already has ‘big teams’ on his managerial repertoire albeit him being relatively young for a coach.
Despite this seemingly impressive past, Chelsea would be gambling if they appointed the Italian.
Many managers have spoken of the difficulties of the Premier League in the past, particularly regarding its physicality and relentless fixtures. Conte has only ever managed in Serie A which possesses a comparatively relaxed style and schedule.
Jurgen Klopp has cursed the toughness of English football this season and while he has fared well, such performances from Conte cannot be guaranteed. The Italian is a great manager but how he would cope with the chaotic nature of the Premier League is unknown. Especially considering Conte has been absent from the club-game for two years, the hectic fixture list of England may prove a shock to the system.
Furthermore, Serie A is a notoriously weaker league and in managing Juventus, Conte has had a reasonably simple ride in recent years.
Capturing so many league titles is undoubtedly impressive but Massimiliano Allegri demonstrates how much easier it is to manage Juventus than other teams in the league. Despite struggling spectacularly late into his AC Milan tenure, he bagged the Scudetto in his first year in Turin and looks set to retain this accolade. In addition, compared to the other squads in Italy, Juventus have a far superior outfit.
If Chelsea do successfully secure Conte as their manager for 2016-17 and beyond they will be acquiring a superb manager. With experience at an array of clubs and exciting links to world-class players, the Blues would certainly be making an appetising acquisition.
However, the daunting nature and stress of the Premier League could take its toll on Conte and his past achievements should not be exaggerated. Whether or not the proposed move will pay off is yet to be seen buts it’s certainly a risk, there just seems few better alternatives.
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