Five Years On From Antonio Conte's Chelsea Exit: A Nomadic Career Like No Other

Conte left Chelsea on this day in 2018 after securing the club the FA Cup in his second season
12:00, 13 Jul 2023

Five years ago today Chelsea made the decision to sack Antonio Conte after two years in charge. The Italian had just guided the Pensioners to an FA Cup triumph, their first since 2012, a year after making a splash in English football by winning the Premier League in his debut campaign.

Conte came into the role in 2016 fresh off the back of guiding Italy to the quarter-finals at the Euros and many wondered how the pragmatic coach would get on, and also how long he would be in the dugout at Stamford Bridge. Before he took the Chelsea job he had had seven managerial positions in 10 years, with his longest stint coming at Juventus between 2011 and 2014.

It was that period with the Old Lady that made Conte such a hot property. He dominated Serie A with the club he had spent over a decade with as a player, winning three consecutive titles as boss between 2012 and 2014. This put Conte on the map and all of a sudden doors were opening for him everywhere, including at the Italian Football Federation.


But as we have found out through the passage of the years which followed, Conte’s nomadic approach to management hasn’t been completely successful. It appears as though his intense approach to football is best-suited in short-term projects as opposed to long-term gigs.

After one season with Chelsea things began to unravel. There was the huge Diego Costa fallout and as the season went on it was believed that the Italian had fallen out with other members of the dressing room at Cobham.

Despite all this, Conte was able to keep a sense of harmony on the pitch to deliver the FA Cup but the slip to fifth just a year on from being crowned champions was all Roman Abramovich needed to pull the trigger and replace him with Maurizio Sarri.

The relationship between Conte and the board had been straining since winning the Premier League title. He wanted the final say on the players the club signed and sought control over the academy. The board denied him such autonomy and from there it was clear that Conte and Chelsea’s relationship would end badly

Not that it would’ve made much difference to Conte, short spells in management were his M.O. A pattern that seems to follow him these days is that he gets the very best out of his squad early on before it quickly deteriorates. Conte is a very intense coach, a perfectionist. And he would always paint a clear picture of what he wants from his players in and out of possession.


Andrea Pirlo, who played for Conte at Juventus told La Gazzetta dello Sport in 2017: “His attention to detail is impressive. He also manages to give you convincing explanations about things.”

The former midfielder also detailed how he would learn more from a Conte video session than actually being out on the training pitch. “One of his 20-minute video sessions is worth three days on the training ground. You immediately understand what it is you have to do.”

Conte’s intensity appears to be fun and exciting to begin with, but as we have seen recently it can soon fade and stop being effective.

When Conte joined Chelsea’s rivals Tottenham Hotspur in November 2021 he had an instant impact on the team and their attacking might was arguably the best in the Premier League. But as we saw last season, this couldn’t be replicated in the longer term. Son Heung-min’s and Dejan Kulusevski’s form fell off a cliff, increasing the attacking burden on Harry Kane. The defence was a shambles and it quickly became clear that Conte’s honeymoon period was well and truly over.

Things got to the 53-year-old towards the end and he would attack his players and the club in the press for their lack of effort and ambition. Even taking into account the deaths of friends Gian Pietro Ventrone, Gianluca Vialli and Sinisa Mihajlovic, his behaviour was unbecoming. He made sure he put himself in a position from which he could not come back and was inevitably relieved of his duties.

There is no denying that Conte has been an excellent coach over the years, but it is apparent that he needs a lot of variables under his control for his teams to flourish. In a modern age in which more and more sporting directors are coming into the fold to oversee how a club recruits and plays football, coaches like Conte are left to adapt or fade into the void.

And after his tirades at Spurs calling out the board and players, this will register as a big red flag for football owners in need of a new coach in the near future. They want to bring someone on board who they can align with in vision and work collectively on a project. From Conte’s track record he doesn’t fit that profile. The manner of his Spurs exit has seen his stock take a hit despite most of what he said having carried more than an element of truth. But where he ends up next is anyone’s guess.

Chelsea are 14/1 to win the Premier League with Betfred*

*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change

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