Image of Antonio Conte.

Last season when Antonio Conte was appointed as Chelsea’s coach,  I  had misgivings that he would achieve instant success in his first season at the London club despite the fact that he had recorded so much success in his time at Juventus. Then, I reasoned  that his involvement with the Azzurri in the European Cup of of that year did not give him sufficient time to get the right players he needed for his new assignment and that he also did not have sufficient time to study the players on ground during pre-season.And when I then looked at the calibre of players his immediate rivals had added to their teams during the transfer market, I was convinced that it would be very difficult for Chelsea to clinch the league title or any other domestic trophy under their new manager.

I became more re-enforced in my conviction after Chelsea’s defeat to Arsenal and Liverpool . At that point in time, I wrote an article in which I articulated measures that could bring Chelsea back to winning ways.I was of the opinion that strengthening the team during January transfer market would do the club a world of good. Beside signing new players during the January window, I also made other suggestions in respect of how the team should be set up to play pending when the transfer window opened.

The changes that can bring Chelsea back to the Forefront of the Title Racehttp://soccerdissectors.com/2016/10/the-changes-that-can-bring-chelsea-back-to-the-forefront-of-the-title-race/

In Chelsea’s  next league match, Conte changed to his favourite 3.5.2.1 formation, which was very similar to the one he used in his palmy years at Juventus. The result was immediate – Chelsea went on a winning streak that took them to the very summit of the league table, a position they remained till the end of the season when they were crowned winner. 

An analysis of Chelsea’s games last season showed there were both tangible and intangible factors that contributed to their league victory. 

Antonio Conte’s deep knowledge of the football aside, certain extraneous factors also conspired to make his title challenge a very successful one, and that is a fact which must not be glossed over when Chelsea’s last season’s performance  is analyzed. Prominent among the fortuitous circumstances were viz, the absence of injuries to key players throughout the season and a relatively favourable festive season fixture.

On a cautionary note: since the afore-listed advantages Chelsea enjoyed last season were all tied inextricably to the vagary of chance,  Conte must arm or rather prepare his club against the selfsame factors should they turn unfavourable next time around.

At this point, it becomes pertinent to switch attention to those tangible aspects  of the game of football that are within the power of a coach to work to his team advantage. A good starting point, as it relates to Chelsea, is the direct consequence of winning the league title – which is qualification for the the Champion’s league.

Chelsea’s qualification for next season’s Champions league competition means that the club will be competing for four major trophies next season.This would require a greater number of players to prosecute that the one they used last season. 

In addition to the need to bring more players into the team, it is equally important to look at the type of players the club should sign and the tactical adjustments Conte needs to make so that Chelsea will be highly competitive next season, bearing in mind the stiff challenge that other clubs would be putting up next season especially those with great financial muscles to flex in the transfer market.

New Signings.

ATTACK

Chelsea’s attacking trio of Pedro, Eden Hazard and Diego Costa was awesome last season, but what was patently evident was the lack of like-for-like substitutes on their bench . Chelsea need a world-class striker to share the goal-scoring burden with Costa. Michy Bathsuayi does not fit the mold of the striker under consideration here but with proper grooming he would step into the role in the nearest future. A jet-heeled winger is also needed to compete with Willian and Pedro Rodriguez from the flanks.

MIDFIELD

Nemanja Matic and Cesc Fabegras are too technically limited to function as the second mid-field pair of N’golo Kante . A new box-to-box mid-fielder is needed in the team, and let us hope that Chelsea eventually sign Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco.The French man would walk straight into the team and bring a lot of dynamism to Chelsea’s mid-field.

DEFENCE.

Chelsea need to sign central half of equal or almost equal quality to David Luiz before the transfer window closes.If there is any grain of truth to the rumour that Chelsea are about to sign Antonio Rudiger, then it should be a source of great delight to the fans of the club, because the German international has shown all the attributes of a modern central half in the matches he has played in the on-going FIFA Confederation Cup in Russia.He would definitely be a quality addition to the current team.

A Tweak in Tactical formation

 Conte’s effective use of wing backs in his formation last season yielded him a harvest of victories in most matches. In an attempt to find a way to counter that formation last season, a lot of managers set up their teams to play in a similar formation but all such efforts yielded little results. At this moment,however, many managers would have had enough time to conceive counter-measures against Conte’s formation. So in the upcoming season, he should show great flexibility in how his team play – he shouldn’t stick rigidly to the use of wing backs in all matches. The Italian sweat merchant should reverse to other tactical formations, depending on the strength and weaknesses of the opposing team.

Periodic Integration of youthful Players into first team

Since the advent of Roman Abramovich as the owner of Chelsea, money has never been an obstacle when it came to players acquistion . Consequently, Chelsea’s former coaches in the Abramovic’s era had so much money to spend on players’ acquisition and were under intense pressure to produce quick results. Thus they didn’t have the patience to groom players for the future.Their common practice was to sell or loan out players that were not ready for first team action.If youthful players had been given the chance to gradually develop at Chelsea, players like Kevin-DeBryune,Romero Lukaku would still have been playing for club today.

Conte should therefore set a precedence of gradually integrating youthful players , with enough talent, into first team action. He should set his sight on level of excellence he plans to take the club to in the next few years.He should find a way of bringing the numerous Chelsea’s players on loan back to the club after the manner of Victor Moses.