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Antonio Conte: The Master Tactician

Antonio Conte, who turns 50 on 31 Aug, is widely regarded as one of the most intelligent footballing minds around, both as a player and a coach. He is known for his shrewd tactics and the solidity in his game plan.

Ishaan Dutta
Last updated: 01.08.2019
Antonio Conte: The Master Tactician | Sports Social Blog

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The Inter manager turned 50 yesterday, having enjoyed an illustrious career, both on and off the field. He is one of the most decorated managers of his generation, his tactics and strategies impressing and wowing the world for a number of years now.

 

Playing Career:

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As a player, Conte spent the majority of his career as a central midfielder for Juventus and the Italian national team. Vocal, passionate and blessed with a never-say-die attitude, he was a fans’ favorite in Turin, winning them over with his energetic and industrious displays. He tasted victory on every level, winning a Champions’ League and UEFA Cup, apart from numerous Scudetto's and Supercoppa Italiana titles, whilst making almost 300 appearances for the club. Despite his huge success with Juve, he was vastly anonymous when it came to the international stage, with immense competition for places in midfield during the 1990s. His international playing career ended with an injury in the Euro 2000 quarter-finals, while that from club level followed four years later.

 

 

Managerial Career:

 

Conte's off-field career first started when he served as assistant manager to Luigi di Canio at Siena. Soon after, he endured two disastrous spells at Serie B side Arezzo with his first job as a manager, which ended in relegation to the third tier of Italian football.

 

That only motivated the man to prove himself to the world, when he was appointed as manager of Serie B side Bari, who he lifted from the bottom of the table to a secure mid-table finish. It was from here that Conte's managerial career began to take off. Playing an expansive brand of 4-4-2 that was often perceived as an attacking 4-2-4 formation, Conte encouraged his widest midfielders to push up as wingers whenever the opportunity presented itself. The tactical genius started paying dividends, with Bari winning the Serie B to secure promotion. Despite this, he was not offered a new contract, and eventually had a short stint with Atalanta, before returning Siena, where he won the Serie B again. 

 

 

This time it paved the way to the club he really wanted the charge of: Juventus. It is here that he developed to become the great manager he is today. Widely regarded as one of the best in the modern game, Conte matched shrewd tactics with solid game plans.

 

While at Juve, he experimented constantly with the formation, before finally settling on the forgotten 3-5-2 system to match his high pressing and unrelenting work rate mentality. It served as the backbone for the ‘Old Lady’ to begin an unprecedented era of Serie A dominance-six years in a row.

 

With Gianluigi Buffon, one of the best goalkeepers to play the game, and the formidable back three of Barzagli, Bonucci, and Chiellini, Juventus were near impassable. Add to this the wing-backs who patrolled the flanks up and down throughout the 90 minutes. 

 

The centre of the park was equally important to their success, with the genius of Pirlo at the base and industry and drive of Vidal, Pogba, and Marchisio around him. Conte’s mentality hit home, with Juve battering their way to three Serie A and two Coppa Italiana titles under him. However, he couldn’t win the all-important Champions’ League, resigning in 2014, before managing the Italian national team for two turbulent years. 

 

 

Chelsea:


In 2016, Conte was appointed as manager of Chelsea, on the back of their disastrous 10th place finish in the Premier League. It took him a little while to get going, but once he introduced his famous 3-5-2 system into the Chelsea setup, there was no looking back. The Blues steamrolled their way to a record eleven consecutive league wins. After lying eighth in the league at the end of September, six points behind Guardiola’s City, Chelsea won the title with 93 points, seven ahead of second-placed Spurs. 

 


Despite an on and off field controversy-filled second season, Conte managed to win the FA Cup, albeit finishing with 23 points lesser than the title-winning season’s haul. 

 

He returned to Italy this year with Inter, with whom he will look to break the wheel of Juve’s dominance in Serie A. His legacy in English, as well as world football, remains undisputed, as is his status as a visionary tactician with an astute understanding of the modern game.


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