London, Sunday @PeopleSports11
Antonio Conte spent the summer holidays swimming, snorkelling and agonising over his future. Even in Liguria, on the beautiful north west coast of Italy, it is impossible for a Premier League manager to relax. Winning the title in his first season with Chelsea was exhausting, a strain on Conte and his family.
And the Italian admits he needed to decide whether to put himself through it all again at Stamford Bridge or consider options elsewhere. He said: “I spoke with the club and we found the right view about the future. I decided with the club to continue our path. For sure, I enjoyed the season in England and with Chelsea.
But I must be honest, it was very tough. It was a lot for me and for my family.” “It wasn’t easy for me. Sometimes when you win you think everything is easy, but it wasn’t,” he added.
Conte may have looked refreshed and tanned on pre-season tour in China after his break but there was a serious message behind the smiles. He needs to add depth to a squad that had just 13 players make 10 or more Premier League appearances last season. That was why Conte’s phone never left his side while on holiday.
The Italian added: “We cannot make a mistake because it’s very dangerous. We need to improve and increase our squad and do something important for the present but also for our future.”
In the end, Conte decided to stay at the Bridge. But the Italian agreed fresh terms instead of a contract extension, meaning he is only signed up for another two years. Conte was expected to land a new four-year contract as a reward for winning the title.
But he said: “I thought this is the right way, to continue to give me motivation, to give the club motivation.” Regardless of the length of the deal, the 47-year-old says he is showing his commitment by moving his wife, Elisabetta, and daughter, Vittoria, to England.
Another change next season will be working without Diego Costa, which may reduce the stress levels. Even if the Spain striker stays, he will be training away from the first team.
“In January, the situation was very clear for the club, for Costa, for his agent that in June it would be finished. Now we have to build with the new players and with the current players,” said Conte. -THE SUN