Antonio Conte wastes no time in jetting back to Italy after Chelsea's FA Cup success
No hanging about to soak up the satisfaction of winning the FA Cup and flooring arch-rival Jose Mourinho.
No open top bus parade to share the moment with thousands of fans and the team.
The hallmark of Conte’s two years in charge is two trophies but an enduring distance between him and those outside his inner circle. And it is a gap he does not want bridged.
Ref Michael Oliver’s final whistle at Wembley on Saturday signalled victory for Conte — the drug he craves.
The Blues head coach shook hands and embraced the players that had provided his latest fix but only after celebrating wildly with his coaching team first.
Nine of the 15 men listed on the club’s website as Conte’s backroom staff are Italian. Only two are English and highest up the food chain is ex- Chelsea midfielder Eddie Newton, the club’s technical coach.
Newton has been No 2 before but, when Chelsea axed Jose Mourinho in 2015, Steve Holland was there to take over in minutes from within the club.
NEW BLUEPRINT Antonio Conte claims Chelsea squad must be ripped apart to challenge for Premier League and Champions League success
He left to become England boss Gareth Southgate’s right-hand man last summer and hasn’t been replaced.
It has been Conte’s handy insurance policy up to this point, making it more difficult for Chelsea to sack him with no obvious candidate to step in immediately.
The Team Behind the Team
1. PAOLO VANOLI
ASSISTANT TO HEAD COACH: Won two caps for Italy at left-back. Previously worked with Conte with Azzurri U-19s.
2. ANGELO ALESSIO
ASSISTANT COACH: Conte’s sounding board during games, communicates to the team. Used to regular ear-bashings having worked with Conte at Siena.
3. JULIO TOUS
FITNESS COACH: Formerly head of strength and power training with Italy. Boasts a PhD in sports science. Worked for Conte at Juventus.
4. CONSTANTINO CORATTI
ASSISTANT FITNESS COACH: Helps drill Conte’s feared work ethic into players.
5. GIANLUCA SPINELLI
GOALKEEPER COACH: Keeps Thibaut Courtois and understudy Willy Cabellero on their toes. Employed previously by Italy national team.
6. PAOLO BERTELLI
FITNESS COACH: Spearhead of the team, cracking the whip when required. Involved in the tunnel bust-up with Pep Guardiola last season.
7. HENRIQUE HILARIO
ASSISTANT GOALKEEPER COACH: Played for Chelsea and was main keeper coach until the Italian mob arrived at the Bridge.
8. GIANLUCA CONTE
ASSISTANT COACH: The manager’s younger brother. Works primarily as an analyst.
9. CARLO CUDICINI
AMBASSADOR/ASST TO HEAD COACH: Does mainly translation duties when English questions get tricky.
If the 48-year-old goes, the whole support network goes with him back to Italy where he is now, on the star-studded guest list for his great mate Andrea Pirlo’s farewell exhibition match at Milan’s San Siro.
The FA Cup taking pride of place in the Stamford Bridge trophy cabinet also makes for a rather awkward situation for owner Roman Abramovich and his cohorts at the top.
Is there a manager out there who could do any better than the current one, who seems to enjoy making life difficult for his bosses, but does a fine job?
There have been rumours this season that Conte has shut himself away with his trusted crew and at times barely speaks to anyone else down at Chelsea’s vast Surrey training ground.
The club deny this but even Conte admits he sometimes goes in one direction and his paymasters the other.
He said: “Every season I speak with the club and also last season after we won the league, we spoke. We spoke and we tried to find the right way to try to defend our title.
“But as you know it’s not simple and sometimes you can have, not always the same ambition. But when I decided to sign a new contract, I decided to stay at this club and work very hard for this club.
“My mind was always very clear — I didn’t think for one second to leave the club at the end of this season.
“In this season with my staff, I have worked more than last season. Because when you face difficulties, you must be prepared to work very hard to overcome these difficulties.
“For sure, when you decide to take a coach like me, you must know who you are taking, who you are charging for this job.
“I repeat, as I said before, I cannot change my personality, I cannot change my idea of football. But I can find the right way to win this trophy.”
This time last year Conte had been hoisted in the air in customary fashion by Chelsea players celebrating winning the Premier League.
He left Wembley this weekend with his suit soaked in water and sports energy drinks from an outlet of relief as much as jubilation from Chelsea’s players.
The complex nature of Conte’s personality means they have had to accept winning under a man who can get them cups and glory but only by going the hard way.
He uses blunt reverse psychology that will make them feel useless and determined to win if only to prove the boss wrong.
Skipper Gary Cahill, 32, revealed there was no big speech from Conte after the game at Wembley.
He said: “As as you can imagine it was not very quiet in our dressing room when we finished the game. Everyone was celebrating and buzzing.
“It was almost like the whole season built up to this day where we had to try to produce. And that goes for the manager, that goes for the staff and everyone who works behind the scenes and for all the players.
“We had to deliver a trophy. When you look at it in terms of last year and the title and this year the FA Cup then it is not too bad.
“Over four years we have won two titles, one FA Cup and one runners-up. For me that is success.”
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