By Toyin Akiode
It was a feat that no one could have predicted in October last year after Antonio Conte led Chelsea to two consecutive defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal.
Contrary to lofty expectations that brought the lively Italian to Stamford Bridge after the conclusion of EURO 2016 in France; things look gloomy for everyone at Chelsea and queries were raised on the wisdom to hire Conte.
But Antonio Conte is made of sterner stuff. When he discovered the lapses and inefficiency in his tactical structure; he switched altogether!
He changed when many would have been tentative, tinkering and hoping that things would take a positive turn. That decisiveness led to the successful title run everyone is celebrating today.
In the aftermath of the debacle at the Emirates; the tactical change masterminded by Conte propelled Chelsea to a record breaking thirteen consecutive wins. It became glaring that they were the most consistent and adaptable team in the league.
Long before Conte resumed at Stamford Bridge, he had requested for the signing of Ngolo Kante – the major key to Leicester City triumph a season past.
That singular addition to Chelsea was by far the greatest trigger of a dominant display that got questioned only five times prior to yesterday’s encore the Hawthorns.
Yet, the humane side of Antonio Conte is not in doubt.
Filled with almost maniac energy, Conte’s celebrations have brought a new excitement to the Stamford Bridge – nay the Premier League.
In record time, he became the fans favourite and had plenty time to bond with teaming adulators. This he did with his players getting on the pitch each time to hug and encourage them whatever the outcome.
Conte is also a winner!
His face and expression was a sight to behold when Chelsea lost at Old Trafford and the unexpected slip up at home to Crystal Palace. It was as if the whole world had come to an end for the Italian.
Antonio Conte is also a very hardworking Gaffer. His players attested to this after the win over West Brom.
Thibaut Courtois who lifted his manager high after the triumph joined Eden Hazard, Marcos Alonso to emphasize the hard work put in during training to adapt to the sudden change in tactics. The safe hands re-echoed what many already knew about Conte from his days in Turin –that he is very hard working, detailed and hands on.
Antonio Conte feared for his job. He could have been sacked. This fact he revealed in conversations with Tony Pulis.
However, the reverse is the case as courage and vision has led him to equal great records of first time managers who came to England and conquered.
Congratulations and appreciations; certainly are in order.