Is Conte’s intensity sustainable?

Zac Elkin Zac Elkin

Antonio Conte has had great success with Chelsea in the short period of time he’s been with them, but is his approach conducive to long-term success in one of the toughest leagues in the world?

Conte is just 48-years-of-age and his managerial career is only 10 seasons old yet he’s achieved a considerable amount during that time.

Three consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus and one Premier League title with Chelsea have seen him earmarked as a potential legend.

With time on his side, he has the opportunity to really leave his own mark on the Premier League – arguably the most challenging domestic competition in the world.

To do that though, longevity is key. A number of managers have won trophies in England only to lose their jobs a few seasons later. Think Claudio Ranieri, José Mourinho, Manuel Pellegrini, Roberto Mancini and Carlo Ancelotti.

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With the exception of Mourinho, none of the above will go down as greats in the English game and that’s because they couldn’t reproduce their success.

I believe that Conte’s time in England will follow a very similar narrative.

Conte relies on intensity.

His interactions with the media are emotional and honest. He bares all and gives detailed insight into the goings-on of his team behind the scenes.

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He expects huge amounts from his players during training. Eden Hazard recently said: “We work a lot, it’s not always easy in training, there are a lot of hours of training, but it bears fruit on the pitch.

“We play well, we won last year. You can see that that’s the key to success – work.”

He cuts an animated figure on the side of the field. He practically plays the 90 minutes with his players. Bossing and motivating his charges from the technical area, he gets stuck-in.

He simultaneously is a fan too. He always makes a concerted effort to involve the Chelsea faithful in all fixtures. He also lives moments of jubilation and despair with them.

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And while this approach might yield silverware in the short-term, it will surely wear off at some point in the near future.

The foundation on which the Italian wins trophies will prove to be the foundation on which he loses his job at Stamford Bridge.

In trying to understand the seemingly non-existent formula for prolonged managerial durability in the Premier League, Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson are the go-to-guys.

While they are both very different, they shared some striking traits that Conte does not exhibit.

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Both had icy and impersonal relationships with the media. Both preferred tactical nuances to work-rate in order to be dominant. Both, for the most part, allowed the players to organise themselves when on the field of play. And both kept distance between themselves and the fans, urging the players to be the ones interacting with them.

If Wenger and Ferguson were marathon runners. Conte is a sprinter. His dash isn’t over just yet (it’s plausible that he will win more trophies at Chelsea). However, he cannot continue at this pace for long.

A spat with the media as a result of his sincerity with them, a drop in the player’s efforts caused by fatigue, a loss of the change-room as a response to his authoritarian style or a fall-out with the fans because his passion spills over are surely just around the bend.

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