Chelsea are 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League table, and they’re running away with the trophy without any real opposition. Barring a miracle, they’ll be champs at the end of the season, but the real reason for their success may have just surfaced: they’re all scared to death of their manager.
Antonio Conte’s in his first year at the club, and he’s masterminded the Blues’ re-ascension in a more comprehensive way than many had ever expected. His brilliant tactical reshuffle sparked a record-breaking unbeaten run, but it’s been his man-management and handling of his playing and coaching staff that’s really made the difference for Chelsea. He’s gotten the best out of every single player at his disposal, and the reason for that might just be because they fear failing to do so.
Conte spoke with Sky Sport Italia about his fiery temperament, and joked with presenter Paolo Di Canio about his propensity for violence during matches, particularly in reference to a heated argument he had with assistant manager Angelo Alessio on the sideline during the 3-1 win against Arsenal.
“Angelo is my right-hand man and also, if you will, my most regular ‘victim’ because he is the closest man to me, the one I have the most direct relationship with,” said Conte.
“Basically, what happened is that before the game, in training, we had clearly prepared a number of situations arising from corners and so forth, and on that occasion Arsenal had a sixth man in the box, and that meant that [Victor] Moses, who was originally meant to be on the edge of the area, had to go mark the sixth man.
“In such cases, [N’Golo] Kante needs to move back from his usual position further forward next to Costa, to take Moses’ place further back, so as not to leave that part of the box uncovered. They failed to do that, and I got angry [with Angelo].”
Conte says it doesn’t matter who the target of his wrath is when the match is on the line, though. Anyone can get touched.
According to Conte, that rule applies across the board, including star striker Diego Costa, telling Di Canio: “Look Paolo, in such moments I am capable of killing anybody.”
“I am such a ‘your death is my life’ kind of person that all manners go out of the window in the heat of the moment: the only thing that matters is winning. But that’s because at the end of the day we’re all working towards the same goal and we are all united.”
It’s an interesting philosophy, but it seems to be a successful one. Maybe a little bit of inspirational fear is exactly what Chelsea needed this year.