Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has been speaking to the media ahead of his side’s FA Cup clash with Fulham this weekend, and one statement has stood out in particular.
The Italian tactician, as with any other manager, has had some difficult decisions to make this season and on the whole, he’s got them right.
With his side sitting atop the Premier League table with an eight-point lead over their nearest rivals, he’s well on course to win the title in his first season in charge at Stamford Bridge.
Key to his success so far he claims has been that he has prioritised winning over the happiness of his players as individuals, ensuring that they accept that team success comes above anything else.
“The most important thing, the target, is to win, not to try to have 21 players happy,” Conte said, as reported by Sky Sports.”I want to be happy, but I’m happy if we win. Not if we lose and have 21 players happy.
“To be happy we go to the theatre, (to) the cinema. I want the players to try to fight to put me (under) pressure, (to give me) problems to solve, to make the best solution for the team.
“We must continue to put the team above all.”
Conte also insisted that he respects his players as he demands the same of them in return, and so it appears as though he’s found a happy balance which ensures his teams are successful.
It’s a poignant statement in the sense that Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has long been criticised for not having the same mentality, and instead shows too much blind faith and cares too much about individuals rather than doing what is best for the team to win trophies.
Whether it’s players such as Theo Walcott or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain who haven’t delivered consistently, or Mesut Ozil’s current malaise during which he has not been dropped. These individuals have remained in the team despite not being good enough as such to end Arsenal’s title drought.
The Frenchman hasn’t shown the same ruthlessness if you like as Conte, and perhaps this statement from the Chelsea coach says it all about the difference between them and why Chelsea are going to win the title this season and not Arsenal.