What Makes Juventus' Antonio Conte Such a Sought-After Coach?
Antonio Conte is a wanted man.
What makes the former Bianconeri midfielder and captain such an excellent option as head coach? Let's take a look at his key qualities.
Conte the Current
Antonio Conte fits the mold of the current successful manager.
Clubs are increasingly looking toward an influx of young tacticians to lead them in a long-term plan. Currently, the likes of Walter Mazzarri, Andrea Stramaccioni, Vincenzo Montella and Massimiliano Allegri are all leading high-profile Serie A clubs.
Conte made more than 400 appearances for the Old Lady as a player before returning with just five years of managerial experience under his belt.
He's good with the media, good with the fans and good with the players.
Conte the Trainer
Antonio Conte received a touchline ban for his involvement in the Calcioscommesse scandal.
His absence was felt in the dugouts right up until the moment he returned in December 2012, but the Italian was still able to participate in training.
He used the time in the week superbly, rigorously organising his troops, working with his planned starting XI and devising winning formulas with them.
There are a fair few managers who only analyse, leaving training ground routines to the coaching staff employed. Conte gets involved in any way he can.
Conte the Motivator
Nothing like a bone-chilling speech to get you going.
Antonio Conte is a leader and a motivator, so trust him to come up with ruthlessly efficient ways to keep his squad focused.
Juventus enjoyed an unbeaten Serie A season on the way to lifting the Scudetto in 2011-12, and the coach was clearly concerned his side's concentration levels would begin to falter.
He also interacts with the crowd, blowing kisses to the Juve support during games to show his appreciation. As a former captain and club hero, these actions are very well received.
Conte the Tactician
Everyone loves a good tactician nowadays, and those stuck in the stone age are berated by fans who have access to all the latest statistics and analytics.
Antonio Conte is a true tactician, and he's not afraid to mix things up to find the right formula.
His tactical evolution at Juventus is aptly summed up by B/R's Gianni Verschueren:
Conte had Giorgio Chiellini playing at left-back a couple of times last season in the four-man defence. He experimented with his 4-4-2 that he used at Siena. There would be high-pressing and a strong reliance on the wings, but that didn't suit Andrea Pirlo's game, hence the move away. Conte then tried a 4-1-4-1 which heavily featured Chiellini at LB, but he was too limited offensively.
That system turned into a dynamic 4-3-3 after a couple of months, which gave the basis for the "MVP" midfield as it combined Pirlo's vision and distribution with Arturo Vidal's work rate and an expanded role for Claudio Marchisio.
The final push was the lack of goalscoring by the three attackers and Simone Pepe's injury. The 3-5-2 placed the strikers' starting positions much closer to the goal, played into the strengths of Juve's wingers and gave Marchisio and Vidal the opportunity to contribute more in front of goal.
This, all done inside 18 months of football, is as close to a tactical revolution as you'll see. Conte has stuck with his 3-5-2 and, at the time of writing, the Old Lady have a nine-point lead atop the Serie A table.