Antonio Conte’s two years at Chelsea have been polar opposites of each other. With what looks like his final appearance on the touchline for the London club in today’s FA Cup final, let’s look at some of the Italian manager’s best moments for the club.
Best: Signing N’Golo Kanté
One of the shrewdest pieces of transfer business of the last few years (second only to Salah’s move to Liverpool) saw Conte bring the title-winning Leicester midfielder to Stamford Bridge. Along with Matic, Kanté bossed the middle of the park, bulldozing all comers gaining multiple player of the season awards and another Premier League title in the 2016/17 season.
Worst: Selling Nemanja Matić
In an absolutely bewildering move, Conte allowed Matić to leave Stamford Bridge for Mourinho’s Manchester United. Not only is he the Red Devil’s signing of the season, the player bought to replace Matić: Tiémoué Bakayoko, has been a complete disaster.
Best: Winning the League
An obvious one here as Chelsea were unbelievably effective in the 2016/17 season. Eden Hazard and Diego Costa were revitalized, Kanté and Matić were the engine room, and Victor Moses finally fulfilled the promise that multiple loan spells failed in doing.
Worst: Conte’s cup nightmare
Antoino Conte is a fantastic manager, winning three Serie A titles with Juventus, taking a weak Italian national side to the European Championship quarter finals, and his record-breaking debut season in England. But Conte has had no luck in cup competitions, summed up nicely by defeat to the worst Arsenal team in 21 years in last years FA Cup final. Hopefully he can change his tune against Man Utd.
Best:One-two punch from Arsenal and Liverpool
This may seem like an odd choice, but the early season defeats to Arsenal and Liverpool in Conte’s debut season with Chelsea proved what a brilliant manager he can be. Both defeats came because Conte felt like he needed to adapt his management style to the Premier League, but then he said “screw it” and made the Premier League adapt to him. Much like Guardiola’s Man City this term, Conte’s Chelsea brought European tactics to England that bamboozled everyone else, even Arsene Wenger stole his 3-5-2 formation by the end of the campaign.
Worst: Freezing out Diego Cost
This will go done as Antonio Conte’s biggest mistake during his time in London. After one of Diego Costa’s best goal scoring seasons: he contributed 20 goals to Chelsea’s league-winning campaign, Conte sent the Spanish striker a text in pre-season saying that he was surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge. The rest is history: Costa finally left for Atletico Madrid in January (winning the Europa League and finishing second in La Liga), and his replacement, Alvaro Morata, has flopped so hard that he may be looking for an escape route back to former club, Juventus. With Costa in the side, Chelsea won the league, without him (in a season where David Luiz and Gary Cahill have received the same treatment) and they couldn’t even make the Champions League.