Antonio Conte: Why He Will Be a Serie A Manager for Years to Come

Sam LoprestiFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2013

BOLOGNA, ITALY - MARCH 16:  Head coach Juventus FC Antonio Conte during the Serie A match between Bologna FC and Juventus FC at Stadio Renato Dall'Ara on March 16, 2013 in Bologna, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Claudio Villa/Getty Images

When Antonio Conte was appointed Juventus manager two years ago, it was more than a step up from the Serie B world Conte was toiling in on the sidelines.  He was coming home.

Conte spent 13 years with the bianconeri during his playing career.  He was captain the latter part of his career and played in both the 1994 World Cup and Euro 2000 for Italy.  

He won all possible titles at the club level with Juventus and was a three-time runner up in the Champions League.

After leading both Bari and Siena to promotion to the Italian top flight, Giuseppe Marotta tabbed him to take over for Luigi Del Neri after the 2010-11 season.  The idea was, according to a recent interview with ESPN, to bring in someone who "understood what Juventus meant and what the underlined value is of being at Juventus."

Conte certainly fit that profile, and he led the bianconeri to an unbeaten season and their first post-calciopoli scudetto, ahead of expectations.  

This season, despite a suspension from the touchline for allegedly failing to report match fixing while he was managing Siena, his behind the scenes work still helped his team to a 49-match unbeaten run.

His return was an even bigger boost, and Juve will play in the quarterfinal of the Champions League, holding a nine point lead in the Serie A with nine games remaining in the season.

That success has put Conte in discussion for some other high-profile jobs.  Some rumors link him with Chelsea, others with Real Madrid, both of whom are expected to have vacancies in the manager's office this summer.

Such jobs would be tempting, but it would be a surprise if Conte left Turin in the foreseeable future.

The reasons are numerous.  In the first place, Andrea Agnelli and Marotta are bent on restoring Juve's pre-calciopoli reputation as a world giant.  Just as selling off top players like Arturo Vidal would be counterproductive to that goal, allowing the coach that started the rise would likewise hamper Juve's return to the form they had before their forced demotion, when they were threats for deep runs in the Champions League every year.

Second, his own history with the club must be considered.  Conte is a Juve man through and through, and it's unlikely that he will turn his back on the team that he forged his name in Italian soccer with.

The third reason is the unfortunate track records of Italian coaches on foreign soil.  History is littered with Italian managers that have seen huge success in Italy but didn't see the same results elsewhere.

Carlo Ancelotti followed his wildly successful stint with AC Milan with a league-cup double in his first season with Chelsea, but uneven form saw him sacked at Stamford Bridge the next year.  

Ancelotti's first season at Paris Saint-Germain ended in a runner-up finish, while he finds himself in fight with Lyon for the Ligue 1 title this year, despite a huge talent and money advantage over the rest of the league.

Fabio Capello had a pair of stints with Real Madrid.  Both ended in La Liga titles, but neither lasted more than a season due to problems with management and fan opinion, which did not take kindly to his defensive style of play when compared with the stylish, flamboyant style of Madrid past.

His venture as England manager was derailed by a sub par performance in the 2010 World Cup and his clashes with the FA.  While he has his current team, Russia, at the top of their group in World Cup qualifying, he has had further issues with the FA about squad and captain selection.

Roberto Mancini has won an FA Cup and a Premier League title with Man City, but some wonder if he's on his way out of Eastlands after a meek title defense and City's failure in the Champions League.

If he leaves Italy, Conte may end up being the next name on that list.  

He is always quick to adapt his tactics to his situation, but the EPL is notoriously stodgy in terms of tactics, and in La Liga, results are not enough.  The result must be brought about with style.

Furthermore, most managers in England and Spain tend to be a bit buttoned-down.

Considering Conte's emotional nature—Bologna's Stefano Pioli just accused him of lacking respect for his emphatic celebration of his team's goals—it could be the equivalent of dropping the flamboyant Jim Valvano into the stoic fraternity of ACC basketball coaches in the 1980s.  It's unlikely that he'd be a fit in either league.

The Serie A, and Juve, are the best place for Conte.  

Thanks to their new stadium, the bianconeri are in the best financial position of any team in Italy, and with Conte at the helm they are poised to dominate the league for the foreseeable future. In doing so, Juventus becomes a consistent Champions League threat.  

In a perfect situation like that, it would be foolish for Conte to forsake it for other outfits, and it is unlikely that he will do so.


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