Conte in for long haul
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.