[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t goes without saying that this season has been a difficult one for Chelsea fans.
The Blues have really made their loyal supporters feel quite blue with one of the worst campaigns thus far many have seen in their entire lifetimes. Despite showing some signs of improvement under Guus Hiddink, the London powerhouse sit in the bottom half of the table and have spent all but their opening matches outside the top 10. To successfully defend their Premier League title this term is obviously impossible. To secure a Champions League berth looks like a pipe dream. And to even make it into Europe’s second tier competition – the Europa League – may be too much to ask.
In true caretaker fashion, Hiddink has made it clear that he will not be staying on past this current term, and there have been several coaches linked with the London giants. Two of them, Antonio Conte and Massimiliano Allegri, have garnered a bit more attention than the others. Some Italian media reports – namely Calciomercato – have even claimed that the latter had already been offered a four-year contract worth nearly £6 million per season, and the Allegri-to-Chelsea link continues to buzz about in the press.
Neither Conte nor Allegri have ever managed outside their native Italy, raising the question as to whether they will be able to adjust tactically from Serie A to the Premier League. However, the quality of both certainly cannot be questioned, especially for those who tune in to Italian football’s top flight each week. For starters, when Conte took over at the helm of Juventus in 2011, the Bianconeri were still feeling the aftereffects from the Calciopoli scandal that saw them stripped of two Scudetti and relegated to Serie B.
With Inter Milan enjoying their period of dominance post-Calciopoli, only to see their winning streak snapped by city rivals AC Milan, many did not expect La Vecchia Signora – who had finished in seventh during the 2010/2011 campaign – to bounce back the way they did during the 2011/2012 season. But not only did they recover, they also thrived. During Conte’s debut year, the Bianconeri went on to become the first Italian side to complete a 38-game campaign sans defeat, with the only blemish on an otherwise perfect season being a loss in the Coppa Italia final to Napoli.
The former Juventus midfielder would then go on to better things in his sophomore term, guiding the Turin giants to a second consecutive Scudetto title and making an impressive run to the quarter-finals in the Champions League. And in his third year, Conte oversaw a side that set both club and league records: for the most consecutive wins (12) and becoming the first Italian side to break the 100-point barrier with a total of 102 to make it three league crowns on the trot.
Yet for all his impressive work at domestic level, Conte was not able to achieve the same results in Europe. Nonetheless, he had laid the foundation for when his successor took over in the summer of 2014 following his choice to manage the Italian national team. Yet, although the ex-Rossoneri manager had won the Scudetto in his debut season, his arrival was greeted by doubt, and in the most extreme cases, hostility by Bianconeri supporters. They would all soon be eating a heaping helping of crow when Allegri not only led them to a fourth straight Scudetto and their first Coppa Italia victory in ten years, but also to the finals of the Champions League, where they last appeared in 2003.
Similar to Chelsea, things did not start off well for Juventus this season. They were defeated by Udinese on matchday one – their first ever loss at home in their history – and at one point were closer to the relegation zone than anywhere near successfully defending their Scudetto crown. But October 28th would mark the last time they lost, let alone drop points; the Bianconeri now sit in second, with a new club record of 14 straight wins and are firmly back in the title race.
So, with all that said, would Conte or Allegri be a good option for Chelsea? Well, the fact that both men have successfully overseen a dramatic uptick in results at one of Europe’s biggest clubs certainly cannot be ignored, both in terms of the long-term and immediate results. Allegri’s work in particular during his two seasons in Turin is especially impressive, and undoubtedly with the caliber of players within Chelsea’s ranks, the Blues would certainly benefit from having one of these Italians on the tactician’s bench for the 2016/2017 season and beyond.
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