06 August 2017

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte hopes his successful Juventus blueprint can help him avoid going from champ to chump like Jose Mourinho

ANTONIO CONTE fears his Chelsea squad will struggle to back up last season’s Premier League title glory.

And the Italian has cited previous club Juventus as the blueprint for continued success.

Antonio Conte is wary that Chelsea may struggle next season
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The Chelsea boss sees Juventus’ success as the blueprint

Conte won three successive Serie A titles in 2012, 2013 and 2014 as Juve dominated their domestic scene — and then cashed in by adding quality each summer.

But Conte left, who revealed last week he does not want to see his champs become chumps like fellow title-winning bosses Claudio Ranieri and Jose Mourinho in recent years, fears the Blues are not equipped for back-to-back titles.

In fact, the 48-year-old is adamant it will be harder for his men to defend their crown because rival clubs — including today’s Community Shield opponents Arsenal — have strengthened.

And given the fact Chelsea have a weaker squad than last season, you can understand why Conte might be getting twitchy ahead of the season curtain-raiser at Wembley.

He said: “We’re talking about two different situations because at Juventus we won our first title and in the same moment disrupted two or three teams in that season.

“After that season Juventus increased its quality and potential and, instead, the other teams dropped theirs. After the first season when we won the title, Milan had Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva, Robinho, Gennaro Gattuso and Gianluca Zambrotta, a lot of extraordinary players.

Antonio Conte Juventus
Conte dominated in Serie A with Italian giants Juventus
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Claudio Ranieri was sacked the season after he guided Leicester to the title
PA:Press Association
Jose Mourinho failed to maintain Chelsea’s form after winning the title
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“After that season, Milan sold Ibrahimovic and Silva — they sold their best players — then Juventus increased every season and stayed at the top.

“In England, you win the title and the others prepare next season to fight you with all their strength and they try to go in the transfer market.

“In England it is very difficult to repeat a win.”

Conte has already blamed the club for deciding to sell midfielder Nemanja Matic to title rivals Manchester United — and is sure to be even angrier if they also opt to flog Eden Hazard this summer.

But while Chelsea’s squad has been weakened alarmingly, Arsenal have kept theirs in tact and strengthened.

Conte said: “Arsenal have a really good squad and the same potential as last season. I see them as a potential rival because they’re one of the six teams to fight for the title.

Alvaro Morata scores a goal from an impossible angle in Chelsea training

“They were prepared to play Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup last season.

“They haven’t lost players and at this moment they have bought Alexandre Lacazette. If you remember they have players like Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, they have a really good team and a really good squad.”

Conte also believes Arsenal were right to hand Arsene Wenger a new two-year deal as manager.

He added: “I consider Wenger one of the best coaches. It’s right.

“He’s a really good coach and had a lot of time to build his squad. He’s the right choice for them.

“I’m not surprised he is staying because he’s one of the best in the world. Arsenal are also one of the best in the world and this link is right.”

The good news for Chelsea is that Conte is also convinced he is a far better coach after a year at Stamford Bridge. He said: “To be coach of a great team in England is great but also gives you a lot of responsibility.

Antonio Conte spoke very highly of Arsene Wenger
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“You know when you arrive in England that you must be ready to fight big teams, with big players against the big coaches. This league makes me better than before.”

And the Italian admits he has been reviewing last term, looking for negative points to improve. Although Chelsea romped to the title, he has been painstakingly looking back in detail.

Conte said: “It’s normal after a season to understand which were the positive things and negative things and which are the situations you need to improve to make your team stronger.

“One positive was our formation — to play three at the back — because with this system we found the right balance offensively and defensively, it was important for our season.”

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