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From Chumps To Champs: The Incredible Rise Of Chelsea Under Magician Antonio Conte

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Blues boss Antonio Conte claimed that he struggled to turn Chelsea from a struggling side to champions in his debut Premier League campaign.

The Blues had finished tenth last season after a disastrous league campaign under former boss Mourinho.

Mourinho arrived at Chelsea when Claudio Ranieri had already guided them to a runners-up spot in the Premier League and a Champions League semi-final.

The Portuguese had guided them to Premier League triumph in his first two seasons after having made a switch to the Stamford Bridge from Porto in 2004.

None of the Blues fans were happy when Mourinho left Chelsea for the first time back in 2007.

Mourinho made a sensational return to his former club Chelsea after a three-year stint at Real Madrid. He made an incredible start to his second spell at Chelsea by clinching the league title in the 2014-15 season but his downhill ride at Stamford Bridge began in next term.

Paul Scholes - Jose MourinhoAt a certain point of time it appeared that the Blues would have to fight the relegation battle. The panic button was triggered and the Chelsea hierarchy dropped the axe on the Special One.

Conte had inherited a squad low on confidence and had faced an uphill battle to take them to the top after struggling in the first few months of his debut campaign in England.

Conte brought things under control with his 3-4-3 system at Chelsea

The Chelsea defence proved their mettle and it seemed that the newly implemented 3-4-3 system had turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Cesar Azpilicueta adapted brilliantly to the new 3-4-3 system and were Conte’s favourites for the back-three spots.

The three-man attack under Conte displayed incredible form this season – which was not the case last year under former boss Mourinho. Eden Hazard, Diego Costa and Pedro, who were not at their best form last season have now found life exciting under the Italian. The attacking trio stepped up their game and provided the much needed impetus that helped them to clinch the title this season.

New signing Marcos Alonso and Victor Moses, who went down the pecking order during Mourinho’s reign and was later loaned out – gave the Blues the much needed pace, precision and control down the wings.

The icing on the cake has been the resurgence of Matic and last season’s Leicester City hero Kante. And all this has been achieved after the arrival of the prolific Italian manager Conte.

And as a fan you cannot ask for a better start from a manager.

Chelsea are now the English Premier League champions of 2016-17 with two games to spare, after they edged out West Bromwich Albion 1-0 on Friday evening.

Michy Batshuayi came off the bench to hit the winner in the 82nd minute to give manager Antonio Conte his first Premier League title in his first season as manager of the Blues.

The victory, Chelsea’s 28th of the season, put the long-time league leaders 10 points clear of second-placed Tottenham Hotspur, who have only three games left to play.

Conte is only the fourth manager to win the Premier League title at the first attempt. Before him, Jose Mourinho in 2004-05 and Carlo Ancelotti in 2009-10 triumphed at Stamford Bridge while Manuel Pellegrini achieved the feat with Manchester City.

And Conte became the fourth Italian after Achelotti, Roberto Manchini and Claudio Ranieri to win the Premier League title – a year after Ranieri inspired Leicester City to their incredible triumph.

Conte, who won three consecutive titles as Juventus manager before briefly taking over the Italian national team, danced for joy with his players in front of Chelsea’s travelling fans as the final whistle blew on a tense night in the Midlands.

Conte said: “It wasn’t easy for me to arrive in England and try a different language and also a lot of players after a bad season.”

“This win is for the players because they deserved this with great attitude and commitment.”

“They showed great attitude and patience and will and desire to do something great.”

“Now after this win I think we must be happy and pleased for all the season.”

“This decision [going to a back three] changed our season, honestly. In the first part of the season we didn’t have the right balance.”

“After two defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal – bad defeats – without playing the ball, without an idea, I wanted to change and find a new suit for my team.”

“In my mind there was this option to play 3-4-3.”

Anirban Das
Anirban Das's journey to Delhi via Kolkata involves football, music, curiosity (which one day can kill the cat) and food. Following global football opens up an infinite space within him in both the conscious and subconscious self, away from the din and bustle of the madding crowd. Supports Manchester United & Barcelona

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