For some odd reason, many of Chelsea FC‘s players effectively quit during the 2015-16 season. The same team that won the Premier League title by such a wide, domineering margin put in one of the worst title defenses that we’ve ever seen. The Blues were everybody’s preseason favorite to win the title a year ago at this time.
Instead of repeating as champs, Jose Mourinho lost the dressing room and his players. Then he threw them under the bus, before being sacked by December.
It was indeed a fractured, disjointed club, which shocked most football observers, given what a great side Mourinho had led the previous season.
Chelsea fell out of the top four/Europe and all the way down to mid table.
This season it’s up to new Antonio Conte to put it all back together. Conte must be a unifier; above everything else.
When Antonio Conte and company came to the Midwest, we naturally had to ask him about that observation, and where he goes from here, given that scenario.
What are the main goals that Conte is looking to accomplish between now and the start of the Premier League season? We asked these questions in the post match press conference at Michigan Stadium yesterday; following Chelsea’s 3-2 loss to Real Madrid in the International Champions Cup.
‘My target is to become a team,” Conte responded.
“My experience in my career as a player and a manager teach me if you want to reach a good target, if you want to fight for the title, you must be a team,” he said.
“You must be a team inside and outside of the pitch. It’s very important and it’s important to understand this and transfer this thought on the players because we must become like a family. And I think this is the key to switch, compared to last season. If we understand this, we can switch.
“If we don’t understand this, it’s not good.”
You can hear the audio of the full Antonio Conte press conference below:
Yesterday was a very rough outing for Chelsea. What went wrong, and what can Conte do about it?
“I know it’s not easy to play this game against another great club after only two days of rest, and after a flight of four hours and a half. I know this because I knew the team was a bit tired,” he continued.
“But today, I think that this match is very important for us because after this game it’s clear that we have to work together always — without the ball and with the ball — because if we think that we can’t work together when we don’t have the ball, it’s not possible for us. It’s not possible, and we risk to repeat a bad season.”
“Today, I think we weren’t a team in defensive situations. It’s important because in the last game, I appreciated a lot our defensive situation and I told also that we can improve when we have the ball.”
“Today, [we were] better with the ball, but bad without the ball.”
Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, partnered with FOX Sports Engage Network. and News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, currently contributes regularly to the Chicago Tribune’s RedEye publication.Powered by Sidelines Follow paulmbanks