Antonio Conte Hits Back at Critics of his Ultra-Defensive Game Plan

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Chelsea could not muster even a single shot on target in their 2-1 loss at Manchester City yesterday as Blues boss Antonio Conte employed an extremely defensive and very pragmatic game plan. Chelsea, who accumulated just 29% possession, registered only three shots in total, compared to City’s 13 (three on target).

After the game, Chelsea star Eden Hazard said that he felt like he ran around, but didn’t play a game of football. He also added that he felt he could have played for three more hours and never even touch the ball. In his postgame news conference, Conte adamantly defended the non-aggressive and less than entertaining tactics that he chose to utilize. He also said those slamming his strategy were making stupid comments.

“We must have big regrets for the defeats against Bournemouth, Watford, United, but not today,” the Italian maintained.

“I think today they showed the difference between them and us in this moment. 25 points is a big gap and I think that we can have regret for the other games but not for this because I think the effort of the players was an important effort. When you play against Manchester City, this kind of team, they are showing fantastic quality but at the same time fantastic mentality. When you match quality and mentality you become unstoppable.”

Heading into the game, Conte labeled City as “unstoppable,” so they obviously had their work cut out for them, but one wouldn’t likely expect a big club like this to take such a submissive approach. The west London side are still the reigning Premier League champions, and one would expect them to come out swinging, instead of laying back on the ropes (to use a boxing metaphor).

Chelsea’s tactics in this contest were branded a “crime against football” by Sky Sports UK pundits. Conte, of course, did not take the criticism lying down.

“Yeah, but I think you have to accept every criticism but I am not so stupid to play against Manchester City open and to lose 3-0 or 4-0,” he responded.

“If I remember well, two days ago, Arsenal played twice against them and then you criticize Wenger a lot because they concede three goals in only 30 minutes,” he continued.

“The pundit has to use the head to understand when you speak about tactics because I think you must have knowledge to speak about tactics and not only to speak in a stupid way.”

That basically translates to- “hey, it’s better to play in this deferential style and lose not too badly, instead of attacking them and getting blown out. Also, you’re stupid if you disagree with this strategy.”

No wonder some people described Chelsea’s showing yesterday as “embarrassing.” We all know that Antonio Conte is on the hot seat right now, and there is no way this helped his cause.

roman abramovich

If you’re CFC Owner Roman Abramovich, you probably don’t like what you saw, and worse yet how it was justified.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net and TheBank.News, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, a former writer for the Washington Times, NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com, currently contributes regularly to WGN CLTV and the Tribune company’s blogging community Chicago Now.

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