I recently had the opportunity to witness the current dominance of Chelsea FC in person and a few things struck me.
The players have quickly bought into the ideas and tactics of Antonio Conte. Despite a rocky start to the season, Conte has established his set-up and preferred starting line and the consistency has been rewarded with a record equalling 13 wins in a row. Players go out onto the field and work hard to deliver his system.
Conte has brought a feeling of accountability to the team – every player is giving there all to the prescribed system. The players believe in the system and the tactics – you only have to look at the confidence in the width that Moses and Alonso provide. They stay high in attack – knowing that the ball will make its way to them, as they find themselves in behind defenses numerous times every game!
Hazard is a completely different player from last year and his work rate is being rewarded with the freedom to attack teams – something that he thrives on. This is in part due to the introduction of Kante to the Chelsea setup – giving the midfield a safety net that allows them to attack in numbers with confidence.
There is no negative talk and reactions when not involved – every player is working as hard as possible for the opportunity to play
Victor Moses has spent nearly 3 years cast aside at Chelsea but Antonio Conte recognized the work rate of the player and the potential to play as a wing back in a 1-3-4-3 system. Placing Moses in that role was very much a stroke of genius and has seen Moses become the most improved player – brimming with confidence and terrorizing defenses at every opportunity.
This was evident to me in 2 forms in particular.
Diego Costa’s has focused on his game and cut out reacting to his opponents;
“The progress he is making in terms of his attitude are down to his application. He has realised that he needs to improve in terms of how he keeps his nerve.”
Thibaut Courtois spent almost 90 minutes with nothing to do and then in the 91st minute Sunderland struck the ball high into the top corner and Courtois had the reactions to keep the ball out and extend Chelsea’s winning run.
In a season that has so many teams showing immense skill and ability – it will be hard to see Chelsea being beaten to the title.
So what do we as coaches learn from this;
-Study the game.
-Understand team shape and tactics.
-Establish a culture and a mission.
-Sell your concept to your players.
-Recognize hard work in players, encourage and reward it.
-Work to eliminate areas of players games that have a negative impact on themselves and the team.