Tagged conte

Number 5!

They did it again – trophy number 5 is a fact.

It’s been an interesting journey for Chelsea because winning a trophy a season is a must. Conte came in and everyone thought he was going to play a very defensive game, not much different to the style of Mourinho. And that was myself included because I know the tradition of the Italians is enforcing a defensive that’s unbeatable.

I know defending is an art but I love to add goals to that. He implemented the new system of 3 defenders, wingback, two holding midfielders and freedom for the front 3 from the begin of the season. The only problem he was dealing with was that he had a lot of players that had to adjust to the fact he was stepping away from the old system of 4-3-3 that had brought so much glory to Chelsea in the Mourinho days.

The season started with a similar system of Mourinho but when they got outclassed by Arsenal the alarm bells started ringing and there was no time to get used to the new system. Conte’s 3-4-3 had to start there and then, and he would only revert to the old system if it would suit the situation. What he’s done to the players is make them more disciplined and responsible, as well as given them freedom. Those three were key and were what he kept repeating from the technical area.

His team started playing some great football. Everything was set and some players started to shine again. Hazard was back to his best, Kante showed why he’s the key in this system and Fabregas used his intelligence either from the start or the bench when the team wasn’t playing well.

We can go on about the likes of Moses and Luiz playing their best football, while Costa wasn’t just out there looking for red cards but solely to score goals. After Arsenal they had another big moment in the season against Manchester City. They had to show they could bounce back from losing the previous game. When they did that I was like if people weren’t sure they were going to win it they were now.

Man Utd found a way to stop them by man marking Hazard, and that will happen again but that just shows how good the Belgian is. It will only make him better because I’m sure after the game he must have thought I couldn’t unlock myself but next time I’ll be ready, and that’s what we saw against Everton.

They asked me before the game if I thought they were going to win the title against West Brom on Radio 5 and I said for sure. The mindset of Conte is so strong that it’s all about winning and not looking for draws. That’s why Inter Milan wants to do whatever it takes to bring him home again. But he has started something very beautiful in London and I don’t think it will make sense to go to Inter and play clean up before he can start making them shine too.

I have enjoyed this season and I want to thank all of my fans for talking about this beautiful game online and in person.

Congratulations to all my fellow blues. Now it’s all about the FA Cup, and trust me, Conte wants nothing more than the double. Next season I can bet you the Champions league is the only thing that would make him sit on his bench for more than just a minute because that man has some energy!

#mmlove

Top of the Tree This Christmas

We’re almost at the half way point in the Premier League season and Chelsea will sit at the top of the tree this Christmas. A 10th straight win for Antonio Conte puts the blues 6 points clear at the top. Fabregas’ goal also meant Sunderland stay pinned at the bottom of the league.

It’s exciting at both ends of the league and everyone will have different opinions about how the table will look come May.

Man City made a flying start to their campaign under Pep, winning their opening 6 games. It wasn’t just the results but the way they picked apart their opponents that had many making early calls for City winning the title.

On their day City can be unplayable, and if Guardiola get’s them playing at the top of their game quickly they will cause the other title contenders a lot of trouble. As it stands though, they have won just 6 of their last 15 games in all competitions going into Sunday’s tie with Arsenal.

Arsenal have also been great to watch. Their mid-week game with Everton was the first they have lost since the opening day of the season, and Alexis Sanchez has looked particularly brilliant. His pace and finishing is causing defenders all kinds of problems and he’s adjusted to his new role excellently. The game on Sunday could be one of the games of the season with the way both teams like to play.

Liverpool have also been great so far this season, but they will need to sort out their defensive problems if they are to be serious title contenders. They’ve scored the most goals in the league but they’ve also conceded more than any of the top 7. Their 3-0 victory against Middlesbrough last night shows they can be solid at the back, but Klopp will need to make sure they stay consistent.

Man Utd have struggled a little bit and Mourinho is always under the microscope so everybody knows it. But Jose is a winner and you can never count out Utd going on a crazy run of form until the end of the season. Spurs are also in the mix and can always cause a surprise like they did last season. Pochettino has played 3 at the back a few times to great success and it looks like it suits the players. They could be a dark horse in the new year.

At the other end of the table things are quite tight for the bottom eight. Sunderland sit rock bottom but are only 6 points off 13th place Burnley. The pack includes the Champions Leicester who were always going to have a tough season after winning the league last year. The extra games that come with being in Europe was going to be tough as they don’t have as much strength in depth as the usual big four.

Hull, Swansea, Middlesbrough and Palace join Sunderland as the favourites to go down, all winning only 3 or 4 games so far. It will probably be a fight to the end and it will be interesting to see who spends in January.

Whatever happens it will be thrilling for the fans and I hope Chelsea can repeat history: Each of the four times they have been top of the Premier League at Christmas they have gone on to win the title.

#mmlove

Moses Becoming a Mainstay

I have probably seen the best Chelsea game of the season and some are saying it might be the best game since the beginning of last season for us blues.

It does help a team when a new man is put in charge. Every player starts from square one to get his place in the squad, fighting for a spot in the starting line-up. Even before they get to a club, new managers know what the problems are with each player’s mentality and come up with a plan to attack that. How they find that out I still don’t know, but the do, and Conte is clearly no exception.

Look at hazard – he’s fit and playing the role he wanted, starting from the left but with way more freedom because Chelsea are playing with two holding midfielders. That allows the attackers to take more risk because if you lose the ball Matic and Kante are there to take care of it.

But Victor Moses might be the big headline of them all. I played with Victor when he was at Wigan. Martinez was very impressed by his talent and we once talked about how we couldn’t believe no big club could see it.

I do have to say he sometimes had to learn to be more focused, not just in the games but in training. He was only 20 years old back then, and I think that’s something every young star has to deal with when they break through. You have to learn to separate the jokes from work because when you hit the pitch, whether in a game or training, it means business.

It didn’t take long before Chelsea saw Victor’s qualities and snapped him up. Then there was a long loan out process at a number of clubs until Conte came and changed the system. He put victor in a role where he had way more responsibility than he was used to. In the United game I saw Victor in his own box more then I’ve seen him ever in a game. Back-tracking and winning balls and headers like he was a defender.

Wing back isn’t an easy position to play, of course it asks for a lot of fitness, but also intelligence because you need to be on time, helping out the defence, but when the team goes forward you need to be there to give them the outside option and even take people on to deliver a cross into the box.

It’s a fun position to play because you always get the ball and are super active. But you always need to keep your focus and remember you can’t slip up, or you’ll pay for it. Moses has managed to adjust and handle his new role well and I hope he can keep this great form going.

#mmlove

Chelsea Welcome Kante

N’Golo Kante will be a great addition to the Chelsea squad.

Every team would want a player who knows how to break down opponents and influence the counterattack as well as Kante does. After an amazing season at Leicester he said that moving to Chelsea, with a manager as brilliant as Conte and world class players, was an easy decision to make.

He will have learned a lot from Ranieri. His teams are about studying the opponent, finding their weaknesses and capitalising on them, and I’m sure Kante will bring that philosophy to the Chelsea team. He can bring balance to the team, and hold everyone together when the team is under pressure.

It’s always a good sign when a midfielder-come-coach wants you in his team, and especially when that man is Conte, who is a true leader and demands the best of everyone around him, as he did as a player and now from the sidelines. It will be interesting to see if Antonio can squeeze even more out of N’Golo.

Kante is maybe a more quiet type of player, sometimes seen as the unsung hero because he’ll do his job while others run away with the glory. At Leicester the success was due to the whole team’s effort, but it was the likes of Vardy and Mahrez getting the headlines with their goals and exciting attacking play.

Vardy has chosen to stay at the King Power stadium, but there are rumours that Mahrez might be on his way out too. Will Leicester react similarly to Southampton, and keep building on what they started, or will they crumble and get caught in a relegation battle?

It will be an important season for Chelsea because no Champions League football will feel strange after being in it for so many consecutive years. This season is one that can’t repeat itself, so we’re looking for a better start and hoping that the blues can come out of the pre-season better, fitter and sharper than the last one.

#mmlove