Conte angry interview

Con Te Partito – Epitaph of Il Mister

By tdf, July 16, 2014

Conte angry interview

The cracks were showing long ago…

And so it has happened. With trademark drama and a sense of timing which must be labelled dangerously unprofessional, Il Mister has left the premises.

Whilst the decision has come as a surprise, it can be no shock given the theatrics witnessed at the close of last season. During that time, a special occasion when the club and its supporters should have been celebrating the glory of a third scudetto on the trot with a records point haul, our joint focus was on Conte. He took centre stage not for his role in the wonderful success, but due to his decision to express to the world that he felt he could go no further with the club, that he had reached the end of a cycle. Intimated in his words was the lack of confidence in his ability to repeat such a feat the following season. Also mentioned was his belief that the club was not capable of winning the champions league.

I was among the many who were more bothered than concerned when his final match-day tantrum cast a dark cloud over the festivities. Bothered by his lack of respect for the la vecchia signora, its fans and the players. His emotive outburst was not drenched in love for the club, but seemingly focused solely on Conte as a man, as a manager. He could not see his future at Piedmont because in his mind the board could not match his ambitions, which we must assume were to challenge for the top honours in Europe (The Champions League).

Inherent in his conclusion of our inability as a club to challenge for Champions League glory was a criticism of his own deficit of talent as a coach. After our return to the champions league in the 12/13 season which propelled us to the quarter-finals stages, bowing out to eventual champions B Munich, securing several brilliant results en route (Chelsea and S Donesk), our efforts last term were less successful. Failures against Galatasary and Copenhagen suggested we were tactically undone, for player for player our squad was vastly superior to both opponents. Which leaves the management as the main focus of responsibility.

As a motivator Conte appears immensely potent, leading from the front line, playing the paternal role with love and demand for respect and total commitment. He protects his players fiercely, lives every kick, header, foul and goal from the touchline and projects his winning mentality onto every orifice of the club. However, tactically speaking he has much to learn.

The only adjustment he has made to the possession based, high intensity 4-2-4/4-4-2 system he had employed at his former clubs was to move to a 3 man midfield to incorporate the talents of Vidal alongside the imperious Pirlo and then Marchisio and his successor Pogba. To encourage the width his system requires he morphed our fullbacks into wing backs. Other than these moves, I have seen no further tactical developments since the first season of his tenure. In fact I would go as far as to suggest I have seen stagnation…

There is also the question regarding player development. Is there proof of any players improving dramatically under his tutelage? Pogba springs to mind, yet he had already shown precocious talent at Man United, even at Le Havre prior to his stint in England, and I suspect he would shine brightly simply from been given the chance to play at a high level anywhere. His talent is natural and immense. Conte has indeed offered solid guidance, yet I assume Pogba’s team-mates have supplied similar mentoring roles ( He may well have learned more from Pirlo than Conte).

Of those we had hoped would improve, namely Bonucci and Giovinco, there remains little evidence of progress. I suppose we can give the manager credit for placing Asamoah in the left wing back position, where the Ghanaian has been commendable; but against top opponents a central midfielder masquerading as an attacking terzino is fairly easy to contain and predict. Comparably on the opposite flank, Lichsteiner has been an outstanding servant to the cause, yet was asked to consistently produce clearly he found tricky ; taking on a defender and accurate crossing.

Was Conte the major reason for our recent spate of domestic domination? Perhaps insomuch as he gave the squad belief that they could return to the top, and the motivation required to get there. I would place Beppe Marrotta and his side-kick Paratici as equally important factors for the trident of titles. Every player in the starting XI was brought to the club by the duo other than Buffon and Chiellini. How much influence Conte had in those moves is debatable. Although we must assume, given the timing of his appointment, that he had very little input in the moves for Lichsteiner, Pirlo and Vidal. And had he even heard of Pogba when Beppe first began discussions with Raiola?

With success has come an increased focus on improving the squad and the financial means to do so. Last Summer saw the club finally cure the ills in the front line by bringing in Llorente and Tevez, who both enjoyed impressive début seasons. Investment in domestic youth has flourished and whilst our mercato was shaping up less spectacularly than some with tenuous grasps of reality would wish, with Iturbe, Morata and Evra on their way, alongside the signing of Coman, we were hardly set up for disaster. The 4-3-3 seemed finally on the horizon. Yet more fire-power and versatility in the front line with a specialist left back (albeit a 33 year old!) at last acquired.

When Conte made such comments regarding the absence of quality required to win the champions league, he was criticising his own players. Strange given the huge interest in Pogba and Vidal, the top drawer reputation of Pirlo, Buffon, Chiellini, Lichsteiner and Barzagli and the known quality of Tevez and Llorente. Whilst Diego Simeone continues to defy the elite status-quo and plough onwards and magnificently with meagre resources at Atletico, Conte whines and leaves whilst still under contract, two days into pre-season training.

Yet let us focus once more on his tactical misgivings.

I have rarely seen Il Mister make a substitution in a match which has thereafter drastically altered the dynamic on field. He most commonly replaces like with like, merely adding fresh legs in the same tactical system or once a game is seemingly won, he plays the Padoin card, shoring up the midfield defensively at the cost of offensive output.

Are these moves truly all he could fathom with the players at his disposal over these last three seasons? Beppe and Paratici have created the strongest squad in Serie A. Conte has guided them to where they should be; consistent winners. It is only in Europe where we have faltered, yet that first campaign in the elite competition was not shameful, in fact whilst we bowed out convincingly to Bayern, so did every other team. Praise and respect were lavished upon the club for their wondrous return. On that occasion, it was fair to admit we simply came up against a far stronger opponent.

The same cannot be said about last season’s exit at the group stage. We were simply poor against Copenhagen and Galatasaray with Conte out-foxed in all four ties. The squad we have should have gained in the least 3 victories from those 4 games. Yet we managed one victory and two draws before the final loss to the Turks which sent us OUT.

Thrust into the Uefa League, not all was lost, yet our performances hardly improved, with the same formation, the same tactics employed relentlessly. Jorge Jesus proved experience counts with the deserved, yet tight victory over the two legs of the semi-finals. I do not believe we failed against the Danes, Turks and Portuguese because of an inferior squad. The major culpability falls into Conte’s hands.

Like a child who blames everyone but himself for his own mistakes or bad behaviour, Conte is always quick to blame others. I have yet to hear him infer a semblance of responsibility for the European misadventures, with his position one of extreme and naive arrogance. His thoughts are along the lines of…’Clearly I get the very best out of these players, they give their all for me, so if we lose then the problem is the lack of quality in the players, not the coach. ‘

That argument is one I have disputed and despised since it first appeared on his lips. He has little humility and a blinkered view of the world which starts and ends with Conte.

His motivational abilities are phenomenal. Of that there can be no doubt. Yet it is not his departure which causes unease in the present, it is his decision to wait until two days into pre-season training, yet again showing contempt for the club and its ambitions.

There are some supporters who have been indoctrinated into ConteMania. For them he can do no wrong. It was the club, they squeal, alongside abuse of Agnelli and Marrotta. No blame lies with Conte for their cabal. Yet the same crowd often refer to matters which defy logic and suggest their understanding of the basics of finance is mired in mist.

It is true that we were formerly one of the richer clubs in Europe, able to offer comparable salaries and transfer fees for the cream of the crop. Our consistently solid showing in Europe and domestic duels with Milan marked as a club where the top players aspired to play. And then came the nouveau-rich contingent. First Chelsea, then Man City. Which at first proved not much of a problem, for only Chelsea were able to attract real quality. However, a storm was brewing, which finally broke in the shape of Calciopoli. We lost not only our titles and huge revenue, but also a swathe of players of an elite level. As we clawed our way back to the top of the domestic pile, other clubs had been picked up by multi-billionaires with bottomless pockets.

Man City were now in the hands of a Sheik, as was PSG. Monaco and a couple of eastern European outfits were also suddenly in the money. The power structure, in terms of purchasing power, had changed considerably by the time Conte won his first scudetto as coach in 2012. Our reputation was repaired, but financially we had been taken over by several clubs who were on their way to creating super squads of such talent and opportunity that their huge wealth could attract the cream of the world’s crop to clubs without a prestigious history, such as Man City. Ten years ago who could have foreseen the star-studded squad and Pellegrini at large in England’s North West dressed in light blue?

When I hear of juventini complaining that Beppe Marotta and Agnelli are to blame for our failure to capture Di Maria, and satisfy Conte, I wonder who it is they actually support, Conte or Juventus. Even a club which finishes 4th in the money drenched Premiership can offer higher wages and transfer fees than presently we can muster whilst maintaining financial security. If a club comes in and offers 35m for Vidal, enticing the player with a wage of 8m per season, I would not be critical of the club if we accept the player’s wishes to make the move happen. How anyone can attack the club for aiming for the long term security of the club is cause for my wrath to alight in my blood. We can do without such ‘fans’. They can stick to Football Manager and FIFA and align their support with a club who buys success rather than makes success.

I believe as an organization we are moving forward carefully and strongly. The new stadium was a smart move, the club has regained domestic dominance and we have a squad of players accustomed to winning.

Conte gave us all he could and we thank him for his work. Despite my ire focused in his direction presently, I have love for the man as a player, and as a manager. He lacks the class required of a true professional, bares his heart when he should use his head and whilst I wish him well, I feel he will struggle to make any in-roads into the champions league until he can develop tactically. It takes more than superior players to win a game, hence the romance of competitions such as the FA Cup. And the delightful story of Atletico Madrid last term.

Antonio leaves us with fond memories and gratitude, in a much stronger position now than when he arrived in the summer three years ago. What is of most importance to consider in this flash-flood of upheaval is that it was not only Conte who dragged us to where we are today…   

Share with the world...