Chelsea’s new manager has given his first press conference since being officially appointed at the West London club and declared that he is a ‘tailor’ who will make the ‘best dress’ to get the club back into the Champions League.
Conte, who arrived at Stamford Bridge earlier this week after his Italy side got knocked out of the European Championships in France by Germany, has also confirmed that current Chelsea captain John Terry will maintain the armband for next season. The former England captain looked as though he was on his way out of the club when the Blues failed to offer him a new deal, but they changed their mind in May and he signed a new one-year deal.
Conte confirmed that he was part of the decision making process to offer Terry that new contract, saying, “I repeat, John Terry is an important player for me, the club and the fans. He signed a new contract in May and we took the decision together. We were very pleased and very happy he signed a new deal. I spoke to him at different times and he was very happy to sign”.
With Terry as the club’s captain the Italian believes Chelsea are in an excellent position to push on in the 2016-2017 season, recovering from their disastrous 2015-2016 campaign in order to return to the Champions League. He said, “Chelsea belongs in the Champions League and we must stay there. I know only the road to take the club back to competing and winning the title – work, work, work. The coach is a tailor who must make the best dress for the team. Last season in 10th was a bad season, but we must think to the present”.
Conte, who turns 47 later this month, took charge of his first training session with the Blues on Wednesday. He was pleased with the spirit he saw from his players and believes that they have what it takes to match his work ethic. He refused to be drawn on the notion of the Premier League being a battle ground for the world’s best managers, instead suggesting it’s about the players and teams in the league.
Answering a question about whether he’d like a name similar to how José Mourinho called himself ‘The Special One’, Conte said, “I don’t know if this is a good thing or a bad thing but I have a great passion for football, for my team, for my work. I like to stay with my players in training – to play with them, to lose with them. I have great passion and I want to transfer that to my players and fans. In this tournament it is not a challenge between managers. It is between great teams and great players. These are the most important things”.
Conte won’t be afraid to ask for advice from former Chelsea manager and fellow Italian Claudio Ranieri, who won the Premier League with Leicester City last season. He said, “He is a lovely man and I will ask him for a bit of advice”. He also denied that he would be under any pressure, despite the fact that the bookmakers think he’s more likely to be sacked before the end of the season than to win the title with the West London club.
Conte said, “I suffer during the game and I won’t let my players see this, or the fans see this. I hope there is a small flame flickering that can eventually grow into a blazing inferno. The pressure for me is not important. I was born with pressure. It’s the norm when you are a player or manager of a great club. We must fight for the title, we belong in the Champions League and we must stay there. Every manager has his own idea of football and I want to transfer my ideas to the players”.
Regarding transfers, Chelsea have made one big appointment with the signing of the Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi for £33 million. The youngster signed a five-year contract and Conte thinks he’ll be important for Chelsea’s future. He said, “He’s a young player but very strong with good technique. He uses two feet, a great talent. I am very happy that Batshuayi stays with us. You don’t need to take just the champions, you need to take those who can adapt to our football and our philosophy”.