After just six months in charge, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has the Blues looking like world beaters again.
Around this time last year, Jose Mourinho had just been fired and spirits were at their lowest and according to the club’s technical director Michael Emenalo, there was ‘palpable discord’ within the ranks, and the board was not left with much of a choice.
The fans had turned against the players, players against the staff, and some players against each other. But Conte’s arrival has turned things around quickly, and it’s not just on the pitch.
The former Italy manager brought the players back together, effectively dismantling factions and bringing everyone on the same page. He started up a supper club for the players and coaches to go out to eat together, with one of those being an occasion to celebrate Eden Hazard’s Player of the Month award.
But he has gone even further. Last week, the club held their annual Christmas party for their support staff, including security officers, receptionists and admin workers from both Stamford Bridge and Cobham.
They certainly didn’t expect to see the team’s manager, as the norm has always been to watch a pre-recorded video of the boss thanking them for their hard work. This year, however, Conte decided to show up himself, and not fleetingly. According to the Telegraph
writer Matt Law, he stuck around for two hours after giving his speech.
The last manager to ever do so was Carlo Ancelotti, so it goes to show how much work the new boss is putting in to maintain an air of togetherness around the club.
After their 1-0 win at Crystal Palace, Conte rewarded his players with three days off. They will return on Wednesday to prepare for their Boxing day fixture against Bournemouth, and will spend Christmas morning together, as families should.