International Football

Antonio Conte the Right Man in a 'Dark Moment' for Italy

TURIN, ITALY - MAY 05:  Juventus head coach Antonio Conte celebrates after beating Atalanta BC 1-0 to win the Serie A Championships at the end of the Serie A match between Juventus and Atalanta BC at Juventus Arena on May 5, 2014 in Turin, Italy.  (Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images)
Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images
Jerrad PetersWorld Football Staff WriterAugust 14, 2014

The strained relationship between Antonio Conte and Juventus proved to be a boon for the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), who on Thursday handed the 45-year-old the reins to its national team following the exit of Cesare Prandelli.

According to Eurosport, Conte has agreed a two-year contract with the FIGC that will make him the third highest-paid manager at the international level, with only Fabio Capello and Roy Hodgson earning more than his €4.2 million annually.

Kit manufacturer PUMA will contribute more than half of Conte's salary—an unusual piece of business that demonstrates just how vital the Italian football hierarchy thought his appointment to be.

Conte celebrated a third Scudetto triumph in three years with Juventus last spring.
Conte celebrated a third Scudetto triumph in three years with Juventus last spring.Massimo Pinca/Associated Press

"He has shown he is the best in Italy and one of the best in Europe," remarked former Juventus and Italy striker Fabrizio Ravanelli in an interview with TuttoMercatoWeb.com, as relayed by Football Italia.

"This is a dark moment and he is the best choice possible."

It was only last month that Conte blindsided the Bianconeri with his sudden resignation, and in announcing his decision, he seemed to hint at a row over transfer policy at the club.

"It may be more difficult to keep winning with Juventus," he said at the time, as per Goal.

But winning was all he did in Turin, where his three seasons yielded three Serie A titles as he helped Juventus climb out of the hole they had dug for themselves during the "Calciopoli" period.

He'll now be expected to mastermind a similar revival with Italy, who crashed out of the 2014 World Cup at the group stage.

Andrea Pirlo and Italy went out of the 2014 World Cup at the first hurdle.
Andrea Pirlo and Italy went out of the 2014 World Cup at the first hurdle.Clive Rose/Getty Images

"He won three league titles in great style in Italy and I think the decision is very apt," stated legendary Azzurri goalkeeper Dino Zoff, according to Football Italia.

"I don't know what he can bring that is new. The squad of players is quite restricted, but I think he is capable of producing a competitive Italy soon."

Given that Euro 2016 qualifying is set to begin in less than a month, Conte will have little time to make his preparations, to tinker.

Not that Conte has ever been one for excessive experimentation.

After arriving at Juventus, he quickly determined which players he trusted and which players he didn't, and during his tenure at the club, his team selections rarely went beyond his comfort zone.

In other words, he can be expected to make quick decisions regarding the players at his disposal. Trust, perhaps more than anything else, is a Conte managerial hallmark.

Of course, his teams will also be efficient with the ball and easy on the eye.

"Antonio Conte is the best for whoever loves football," added Ravanelli. "There is no one better for anyone who supports the Nazionale."

 

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