Conte is a charismatic, demanding, intelligent figure. But he is a very strict coach—his players at Juventus had to make sacrifices and adapt to a very strict diet. Hardworking players will get more minutes than stars because in Conte's shape, he is not hesitant to slate those who are underperforming or simply not good enough for his standard.
A common misconception is that Conte only plays 3-4-3. This is absolutely not the case. At Juventus, 4-3-3 was the formation he wanted at first, but he didn't have the players to suit it. The 46-year-old can play a range of different formations, such as 4-4-2, 4-2-4, 3-3-4, and the aforementioned 4-3-3 and 3-4-3.
|Juventus side under Conte 2011-2013|
"I've learnt a lot by spending time with him [Conte] and from a tactical point of view he's the best manager I've ever had," said the Italian midfielder. "I don't feel any pressure. I like pressure. When you're with the national team every match is like an exam. I know what the boss wants from me."
Paul Pogba—who would not be where he is today without Conte—acknowledges and is extremely grateful for the unique opportunities Conte offered him after his rather forgettable Manchester United spell.
"He told me [before leaving Manchester United for Juventus]: 'With me, there's no youth, it's the best who plays. If you think you can establish yourself here, come, and we'll see if you're able to do it, show us what you can do.' He pushed me, he struck me where it was needed to convince me. I like being given challenges like that. I like indirect provocation. That's my goal: to be the best in my position, then the best in Europe and then the world."
Players ranging from veterans Andrea Pirlo and Gianluigi Buffon, to young guns like Marco Verratti and Paul Pogba, all agree that Conte is a rare coach nowadays. It's indicative of the special and unique bond that Conte builds with all of his players.
Conte's tacticsIn his 3-4-3 shape at Juventus, he liked to play out from the back, but with the emphasis on moving the ball quickly forward. Conte instructed the wide centre-backs to bring the ball out from the back, into the opposition half if they can, and play the ball forward.
Caceres was very adept at this at Juventus, comfortable at coming out with the ball at his feet, and with a great range of passing to deliver the ball forward.
If he chooses to employ a three-at-the-back formation at Chelsea, Andreas Christensen could be the best candidate to carry out this role. The Blues seem anxious to recall the Dane from his two-year loan at Borussia Monchengladbach in Germany and have great faith in Christensen leaping to the first team next season. As proved by Pogba's rise, and his quotes about his former protégé, Conte gives young talent opportunities based on ability. Let me assure you, Andreas Christensen has ability.
As of the fourteenth of March, Christensen has completed at least 197 more passes (1250) than any other teenager in Europe's top five leagues this season. That is a staggering stat for a 19-year-old centre-back. He would be perfect for Conte's idea of playing.
When Conte returned to Juventus in 2011, he had been determined on employing a 4-2-4/4-3-3 formation reliant on feverish pressing and energy. Andrea Pirlo's arrival from AC Milan that summer forced Conte to switch to a 3-5-2 shape, planting midfield powerhouses Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba just ahead the Italian veteran for energy purposes, allowing Pirlo to dictate the tempo of games.
Cesc Fábregas has the playmaking nous to fulfill this Pirlo role, however the lack of powerful midfield figures like Vidal and Pogba is evident. Nemanja Matić is a tough guy but tends to easily get dragged around by even the simplest of players and cannot distribute the ball forward.
The recent links to Roma all-rounder Radja Nainggolan are positive, though a lot more players will need to be recruited before this system can work.
|Potential Chelsea side under Conte, 2016/17|