Antonio Conte is no longer Chelsea’s manager.
The 48-year-old Italian manager has been a huge character over the last two years in the Premier League, leaving both the Blues and English football with plenty of memorable moments to look back at.
1. The Liverpool and Arsenal Defeats
Conte’s adventure at Chelsea did not start exactly to plan.
Defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal at the beginning of the 2016/2017 season were about to cost the Italian manager his position at Chelsea. Funnily enough, the 3-0 thrashing at the Emirates was a vital turning point for Conte and the Blues.
Whilst initally trying to adapt to the Premier League style of play, the Italian soon realised that it was time for him to offer the English top flight a bit of Antonio Conte’s interpretation of football – and what a choice that was!
It was the start of an outstanding campaign that brought the Premier League trophy back to the Bridge.
2. The Crazy Touchline Celebrations
Conte is a passionate man. Like a real Latin, fire runs through his veins and he struggles to keep his emotions to himself. At least, on the pitch.
It is generally football players who entertain supporters with their creative and odd celebrations. However, when Conte is around, he usually steals the show.
Back in February 2017, Chelsea welcomed Arsenal to the Bridge and triumphed 2-0 at the Gunners’ expense. Eden Hazard’s solo goal to seal the match made Conte go bonkers, throwing himself into the crowd and hugging a bunch of enthusiastic Chelsea fans.
3. The 4-0 Manchester United Thumping
An iconic moment of Conte’s reign at Chelsea is the 4-0 victory at home against Manchester United, with Jose Mourinho making a very miserable return at Stamford Bridge.
The Blues had started playing their ruthless and unpredictable football by then, adopting a fresh and versatile formation which became the Italian manager’s trademark.
The first coach to suffer from the solidity of Conte’s renovated squad was no less than the Special One. At the end of the match, Mourinho approached the Chelsea boss and had an annoyed word or two with him.
Conte’s wild celebrations and the humiliating result did not impress the Portuguese. It was just the start, though, of a controversial coexistence in the Premier League between the two strong characters…
4. Eating Cake in Post-Match News Conference
Conte likes to joke and to have fun. At least, when his team performs to a convincing enough standard and grabs the whole three points.
After winning 3-0 away at Leicester in January 2017, proud of his boys’ performance and shyly confident that Chelsea stood a great chance to conquer the title, the Italian boss had a little gig with a journalist.
Perhaps peckish after the match, Conte noticed that one of the reporters had a slice of cake. With no esitation, he asked for a bite and – satisfied – he commented with a cheeky smile and with his ‘macaronic’ English: “It’s very good!”
5. The Premier League Triumph
With 30 wins in 38 matches and a total of 93 points, the Blues were crowned 2016/2017 Premier League champions.
Following the previous season’s disastrous campaign, Conte took the team by the arm and changed it radically. Passion, sacrifice, pressure, aggressiveness and hunger for competition were Chelsea’s main ingredients for a killer recipe.
An outstanding N’Golo Kante and a desirous Diego Costa pushed the Blues to the top, however huge credits must be given to the real twelfth man on the pitch: Antonio Conte.
6. The War of Words With the Special One
Conte and Mourinho’s relationship, as already mentioned, was definitely not a bed of roses.
Over the past couple of seasons, these two fiery personalities had several quarrels during press conferences. Mourinho dug at Conte’s hair transplant, inferred that the Italian manager is a clown due to his ‘out of order’ celebrations and alluded to his match-fixing suspension.
The Chelsea manager, in return, labelled the Portuguese as ‘a little man’ and said that he sticks his nose in everybody else’s business.
The saga came eventually to an end, with both managers shaking hands before and after the match between their two teams. It definitely was hot stuff, though, for gossip lovers.
7. The Diego Costa Dispute
Despite being a vital player in Chelsea’s Premier League triumph in the 2016/2017 season, Conte sent Diego Costa a text in the summer stating that the forward was not in his plans anymore.
The controversial decision and the way in which the Italian manager decided to inform his striker that he did not intend to play him the following campaign undoubtedly influenced Conte’s future at the club.
The former Italy boss therefore began and ended last season whilst in a dodgy relationship with the club’s board. His sacking may indeed have something to do with the whole Diego Costa drama too.
8. The FA Cup Victory
Conte finished off his job at Chelsea in style.
In May, the Blues won the FA Cup in a fierce 1-0 match against Manchester United, which appeared to be a fairytale ending for the Italian manager’s adventure at Stamford Bridge.
Chelsea have now appointed former Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri as the club’s new head coach, which means we won’t see Conte yelling and jumping on the touchline next season. The hope is, though, that one day, this passionate man will come back to the Premier League and that he will continue to show British football what a superb manager he is.