Chelsea fans are looking forward to another new era.
After the European Championships this summer, Antonio Conte will leave his position as Italian national coach and take over the helm at the West London club.
Guus Hiddink has turned the club around in his time as caretaker manager, after the sacking of ‘The Special One’. It is rumoured that the Dutchman may stay on in a consultancy role.
However, the job at Chelsea is a tough one and not for the faint hearted. Much is expected and demanded, but Conte appears to be the man that Roman Abramovich has set his heart on and thinks he will guide the club to where he wants them to be.
With the appointment of Conte on a three-year deal, Chelsea have taken a step towards a new dawn and their first permanent boss after Jose Mourinho.
But there will be a series of challenges ahead for the Italian, and the FIVE below will be waiting for him as soon as he is publicly unveiled.
The weight of expectancy can loom large at some clubs and be one millstone too many.
The experienced Conte is a winner, but the former Champions League winners, will be looking for instant success. After a disappointing season of self-implosion, the Chelsea fans will be looking for a league title, a league or FA Cup and a return to European football. Next season, for the first time in 14 seasons under the oligarch’s ownership they will begin a campaign outside Europe’s elite come August and that hurts. Conte will have to show the owner and the fans that from game one next season, Chelsea are back in business.
The chequebook will be out and clubs will be hovering like a spectre above Stamford Bridge this summer.
There are a few players that could be expected to leave although at this point, they will make the right noises about staying, obviously. Conte will have very little time to assess who he wants and who he will cast aside. The Italian will almost certainly be looking at the youth squad and eyeing up any potential recruits to his first team with the likes of Nathan Ake, Patrick Bamford and Lewis Baker, to name just three. Previous incumbents have spoken highly of the emerging talent, but never seem to call upon it. Then there’s the headache of keeping or selling on Hazard, Costa and Courtois.
Roman Abramovich is a man used to getting what he wants – whatever the cost. Managers who can’t take the team to its next level don’t tend to stay too long. Eleven managers have come and gone since Abramovich bought the club in 2003, with a collective total of fifteen trophies. The pressure is on and Conte knows it, but he won’t feel that pressure until his first day.
This will be tough for the new boss. With having missed out on Europe, the income will not be as significant as before and the fact that that element of Chelsea’s season next year will be missing, may impact on who comes through the door. There are ambitious names on the list, but will they want to leave clubs that will be in Europe, for a team that need to re-build and may get back in the year after? Conte may have to settle for a list ‘B’ type player until he is in a position to attract his list ‘A’ targets.
Money talks though. If the wages and the ambition is set out strongly enough, he may just persuade some star talents to walk through the Stamford Bridge door. But whilst we talk about new players coming in, this is a club with loan players everywhere.
It is true to say that the top four or five teams are now being caught by the also-rans. TV money will give all of the Premier League teams provision for better squads, although it is fair to surmise that the top clubs will still and always will attract the top players. With Leicester and Tottenham breaking into the hallowed top four places and with West Ham coming close to upsetting the status quo, Conte will soon realise that the elite are in danger of complacency. Bear in mind that the likes of Leicester and Spurs and the other teams competing in Europe next year, can offer something that Chelsea cannot.