Italian team manager Antonio Conte will become Chelsea’s Head Coach at the end of the European Championships in France, despite being involved in a match-fixing trial.
Chelsea has announced that Antonio Conte will join the club on a three-year deal as Head Coach in time for the start of the 2016-2017 Premier League season. Conte will become the 10th Chelsea boss hired during the Roman Abramovich era, currently in the midst of its 16th year.
News report suggests Conte is joining a club in ‘turmoil’ after the champions disastrous defence under crowd favourite Jose Mourinho. And yet, during Gus Hiddink’s temporary time in charge, his side have gone on a 14 match unbeaten run unparalleled by any other team in the division.
Conte, 46, has signed a three-year deal worth a reported £9m a year. He is the current Italian national side manager, and will step down after his Euro 2016 campaign where they sit in a group with Belgium, Republic of Ireland, and Sweden.
The Italians were one of four teams to qualify from the group stages without losing a game, but have since hit a sticky patch of four games without a win, including defeats against the World Champions Germany, group rivals Belgium, and draws against Romania and the reigning European Champions Spain. The Italian Football Federation handed Conte a two-year contract in Aug 2014 after the resignation of Cesare Prandelli.
Match Fixing Scandal
A match-fixing scandal still hovers over the head of the no-nonsense coach like a cloud full of acid rain. On Monday, Conte’s legal team spent the day in the Cremona courts trying to prove the innocence of a man charged with ‘sports fraud’ after allegedly failing to advise the authorities of match-fixing during his time as coach of the then Italian Serie B side Siena.
Central to the case is the former Siena midfielder Filippo Carobbio, who claims officials at Siena agreed to fix matches against AlbinoLeffe and Novara, and that Conte was aware of the decision by the club to fix these particular games.
The Italian football governing body handed Conte a 10-month ban from all footballing activities. After an appeal, it was reduced to 4-months. He has, and continues to, plead his innocence of all charges. It seems the Italian football authorities believe in him enough to hand him the Italian national side position and so does Roman Abramovich. The trial is due to end in May.
Chelsea Team Plans
News reports suggest that Conte’s first job will be to try and persuade Diego Costa that his future does not lie in Spain. Mr. Angry has told his colleagues that he wants to return to Athletic Madrid because he believes the English referees are singling him out (I have an idea. Try not acting like a raving banshee each game and perhaps they will keep their cards in their pockets).
According to reports, Conte is also keen to prise former Chelsea asset Romelu Lukaku away from Everton, doesn’t mind offloading Thibaut Courtois, and wants Juventus loan star Juan Cuadrado to return to Stamford Bridge.
Conte won the Champions League and five Serie A titles when playing for Juventus. He managed the Old Lady between 2011 – 2014 picking up three Serie A titles. He takes over from Gus Hiddink. The Dutchman, who took temporary charge of the club after Mourinho’s sacking, has only lost one game in his 27 games in charge spread over his two periods at the club.
Writing in his autobiography ‘I Think Therefore I Play,’ Juventus legend Andrea Pirlo said of Conte, ‘he has fire running through his veins,’ and that he ‘moves like a viper.’ When he took over at Juventus he told the players, ‘it’s time to stop being crap.’
I am sure the pampered Chelsea players will love him.