Conte in for long haul

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - SPORT -

An­to­nio Conte says that he in­tends to con­tinue in man­age­ment for 10 years. The Chelsea man­ager, who will be 48 in July, played down the pos­si­bil­ity of car­ry­ing on well into his 60s, like Sir Alex Ferguson or Arsène Wenger, but he ad­mit­ted that, like most man­agers, “foot­ball is our life”, and that it would be hard to give up.

The is­sue was pro­voked by the words of Pep Guardi­ola this week, when he said that he was “ar­riv­ing at the end” of his coach­ing ca­reer and that the “process of my good­bye has al­ready started”. Guardi­ola later clar­i­fied his com­ments, but Conte – who is two years older than the Cata­lan – said he sym­pa­thised with his col­league’s ini­tial sen­ti­ment.

“I pre­fer that my wife doesn’t lis­ten to this,” he joked ahead of this af­ter­noon’s FA Cup game against Peter­bor­ough United at Stam­ford Bridge. “I have great re­spect for Pep and I think that when you have a method, when you have a phi­los­o­phy of foot­ball that you want to bring to ev­ery team, you spend a lot of energy. And some­times it can hap­pen than you are a bit tired – more tired in some pe­ri­ods.

“Above all, when you watch foot­ball and you spend 20 years play­ing ev­ery week, train­ing ses­sions ev­ery day, and then quickly you be­come a man­ager, you spend a lot of energy. But not phys­i­cal energy; men­tal energy. In some mo­ments it can hap­pen, to think this [about re­tire­ment].”

And what of Conte him­self? “Sir Alex Ferguson is a good ex­am­ple for me,” he said. “When I see him and I see Arsène, you are talk­ing about two mon­sters, two great man­agers. I hope to have not com­pletely their ca­reer, but 10 years. That’s enough for me. But foot­ball is our life. When you de­cide to do this job, it is be­cause you like to have this pres­sure. And the mo­ment that you miss it, we are in trou­ble.”

Conte re­vealed that Chelsea could re­call left-back Nathan Aké from his loan at Bournemouth, where he has just bro­ken in to the first team. With Conte in­tend­ing to per­sist with his 3-4-3 for­ma­tion, wing-back cover is re­quired. “Aké is a re­ally good player, and now he has started to play ev­ery game,” Conte said. “I am wait­ing on his sit­u­a­tion, be­cause he could be an in­ter­est­ing op­por­tu­nity in this [trans­fer] win­dow for us.”

Conte will rest sev­eral play­ers against Peter­bor­ough, but there will be rare starts in de­fence for John Terry and Kurt Zouma, in mid­field for Cesc Fabre­gas and up front for Michy Bat­shuayi. All have been on the fringes of the team in the Premier League this sea­son, but will be given a chance to im­press against League One op­po­si­tion.

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