FORMER Chelsea player and manager Glenn Hoddle has paid his own personal tribute to Antonio Conte after the Blues clinched the Premier League title at the Hawthorns on Friday night.
After the Jose Mourinho debacle, Conte came in and steadied a ship that was heading for rough waters. And just look at the results.
Frank Lampard, a Stamford Bridge legend himself, reckons the Italian task master is the ‘new Special One’. Even more effervescent and passionate. Who would have thought that was possible?
Zapsportz team leader Glenn is full of praise for the Chelsea boss who has galvanised a squad threatening to implode.
He introduced a three-man back line after the 3-0 defeat against Arsenal back in September when the warning signs were there – and they haven’t looked back.
All the hard work on the training ground, all the meticulous preparation and re-generation of players’ batteries that had seemingly run down has paid massive dividends.
Culminating with Chelsea being crowned champions after the 1-0 win at West Brom. And what a night it promises to be at the Bridge on Monday when they face Watford.
Hoddle, amongst many others in the game, has nothing but words of praise for the man who has restored former glories to the West London Club. And there’s still the FA Cup Final against Arsenal to come.
Conte already has his sights set on the ‘double’ and Hoddle – in his Mail on Sunday column – says the Chelsea manager deserves ‘massive credit’ for the job he has done. And will continue to do.
There’s talk that Inter Milan want Conte to be their new boss but this proud Italian has already strongly indicated he’s going nowhere. Winning the Champions League with Chelsea is next on the agenda.
Hoddle says: “It has been an amazing season for Antonio Conte, adapting to English football in what has been one of the most competitive seasons ever in the Premier League. But it has been a great campaign to underline the importance of tactics to the game.
“No one would dispute that the turning point in this title race came when Conte switched to a back three after the 3-0 defeat at Arsenal. Watching that game, he switched to the system in the second half and the team looked a lot more solid and got a grip of possession.
I” remember speculating on the TV as to whether he would stick with the system after the game and that I thought he would.”
The players bought into the system and the likes of Eden Hazard, after a disappointing previous campaign, and Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso have positively flourished as a result. Gary Cahill too has grown in stature as captain in the absence of the departing John Terry.
The best laid plans have come together, and Hoddle adds: “Antonio Conte has flourished in the most competitive Premier League season we have seen
“Conte has managed so many situations well, from Cesc Fabregas being in and out to dealing with Diego Costa’s apparent unrest in January to responding to his shaky start.
“He deserves huge credit, as do his team. They have been by far the best in the Premier League.”
Let’s hope that next season they can do something about the below-par performances of Premier League clubs in the Champions League.