Conte confirms desire to return, talks tactical approach and reveals his ‘dream’

By Oliver Fisher -

Antonio Conte has confirmed his desire to return to coaching while reflecting on his time in England, and did not shut the door on the idea of using a four-man defence in the future.

Amid a sea of rumours, denials and results on the field the one thing that seems certain is that the future of the Milan bench is currently unknown, however Conte’s name continues to pop up.

Late last month, Luca Momblano did a segment live on Telelombardia in which he claimed that the Italian has reached a verbal agreement to take over at Milan, while his assistant also fuelled things recently.

The Telegraph have done a long interview with Conte in which he explained his style of management – starting with the use of Subbuteo to teach tactics – as well as his aims for the future.

“I have to put the ball away because of my cat. Otherwise, I lose it. When the sun is in this room, she stays in here and there is an invasion from her. Then I have to clean everything up. She’s a strong midfielder!” he said.

“You can reproduce some tactical situations. In every club that I coached at, I brought Subbuteo, also sometimes to explain some tactical situations with my players. I’ve always had one at my home.

“Could I use a high line in the future? Yes. But the high line means you must press a lot. You can bring your line high if there is pressure on the ball. Otherwise, it’s a big risk.”

Speaking on his preferred 3-5-2, he added: “People think it’s a defensive system, this is not true. I repeat, it’s not true. You can see how many goals my teams score in every season.

“It doesn’t depend on three or four at the back, it depends on the way you build the team and build the attack. At the same time, it’s not good to be too offensive. And not too much defence.

“You have to respect the characteristics of the players and adapt to them. My experience tells me that if you want to win the league or lift a trophy, you need to have a stable team.

“Last season, Manchester City was the best example of a team with great balance, defensively and offensively.”

In his Turin home Conte has a room full of awards and trophies, something that he revealed motivates him to continue coaching.

“Those trophies are a big, big responsibility because they stay there to remind you that ‘oh look, you have to win’. You did this and you have to continue to do this’.

“If the final target is to win the league and lift trophies, it’s important to offer entertainment to the crowd. But to be only an entertaining team is not enough if you want to win. I know because I coached the top teams and they always asked to win.

“For me, now it’s impossible to work for an only entertainment team because the expectation is always that you have to win. I love my past, but at the same time the expectation you bring is always very high and if you don’t win, you have failed. The best possible option is to entertain and win.”

With a smile, he added: “And to be celebrated, I have to win. Otherwise, the others are waiting to celebrate my failure. This is the truth.

“It’s not easy. Guardiola is the best coach in the world. And then when you can match the best coach in the world with a club that can back you and can invest to bring in important players to improve the team every season because they want to stay at the top of the world, then it is very, very difficult to compete at the same level.

“My history says that I always arrived at my clubs in a difficult situation with problems. I always build. After my first season at Chelsea, when we won the title, we could have become dominant in England.

“We spoke with (Romelu) Lukaku and (Virgil) van Dijk, and with those two important players we could have changed the situation.”

Conte spoke about his time at his last club Spurs and the celebrations that ensued after just securing Champions League qualification.

“For me, to celebrate fourth place and a place in the Champions League was really strange. At the end of the final game against Norwich, I called my staff and said ‘pay attention, don’t be used to celebrating a Champions League place’,” he said.

“I was very clear. I said we did the maximum. From ninth to fourth place, with all the problems we faced, was a miracle. But we didn’t celebrate like it was a miracle because I am used to winning.”

During his second season at Spurs, Conte was struck by tragedy as three of his friends – Gian Piero Ventrone, (Tottenham’s fitness coach_, Sinisa Mihajlovic and Gianluca Vialli – all died within the space of four months.

“For sure, it was one of the toughest moments of my life. Gianluca Vialli, I had an important relationship with him. I met him three weeks before he died to have dinner with my wife and I keep that moment in my heart. And Gian Piero. In only six days (he died). It was really difficult to face this situation, also the death of Sinisa.

“When this type of situation happens, you can have horrible thoughts. You think about what can happen to another person very close to you, or if it can happen to you.

“It was a really difficult moment, with the Tottenham players too when Gian Piero died. We tried to overcome it, but I felt that also the players felt this horrible situation.”

Conte himself had a health scare when he needed emergency surgery to remove his gallbladder. He came back to work after just a week, but was then forced to take another four weeks off in order to recover properly.

“It was an important period with the Champions League, the FA Cup and with the league. I preferred to come back quickly, but then I understood it was really soon. It was Daniel Levy who pushed me to go home and recover again,” he said.

“After the AC Milan game, when we lost 1-0 in the San Siro, he told me to stay in Italy to recover well because he didn’t like the way I looked and Tottenham’s doctors didn’t want me to take the risk. The club supported me really well.”

Conte gave a famous post-match interview in which he claimed that Spurs players ‘do not want to play under pressure and under stress’ and that the management would be happy to finish ‘seventh, eighth or 10th’.

“At that moment, my feeling was that. If I tell something, it means there is always something true. No, honestly, I don’t regret anything about this. But I have good feelings about Tottenham. I keep this experience in my heart,” he said.

“Am I too honest? I am this way. I hate the lies. This can help me sometimes or sometimes can hurt me. But I prefer to stay in silence than to tell a good lie – also the relationship with my players.

“During the season, it can happen that you need an honest conversation that can be positive or negative. I know very well, I was a player as well and some coaches told me good lies to keep me calm. I don’t want this type of situation.

“I know very well when you have these honest conversations with the players, in the first moment they can be a bit angry. Then, from my experience, the time helps the player to appreciate you. They were angry, but then they appreciate the honesty.”

Then there is the big topic: what does the future hold for Antonio Conte? He has a pretty clear idea in mind, amid links with a return to Serie A or another spell in England.

“Honestly, I’d like to lift the Champions League as a manager one day. But I know this is very difficult. People think this is simple, but you have to stay in the right club, a club that matches your ambition, a club that is ready to make the final step to win the Champions League. Look at Manchester City. Seven years, no?

“I’d like to give this joy to my father. He said to me ‘I want to see you lift the Champions League’. It’s not simple, but everyone can have a dream.”


Tags AC Milan Antonio Conte


  1. “Honestly, I’d like to lift the Champions League as a manager one day. But I know this is very difficult. People think this is simple, but you have to stay in the right club, a club that matches your ambition, a club that is ready to make the final step to win the Champions League. Look at Manchester City. Seven years, no?”
    That’s why patience is needed. Stick with your successful coach

      1. I didn’t realize our coach wasn’t successful. Didn’t he win a Scudetto, no?
        It took Kloop a whole 5 years to win a league title. No?
        He’s in his 9th year now with the club. You’re actually supporting the point, same one being made by Conte…. Which is patience pays off. City took 7 years and that’s with resources. We can’t expect to be either Pool or City but we did make semis last year.
        I just wanna remind people of Klopp’s record in those 9 years in the league: 8th (yes you’re reading correctly), 4th, 4th, 2nd, 1st, 3rd, 2nd, 5th, TBD. That’s one league title and one UCL in 9 years. And our current manager had one league title and one UCL semi in half the time with an inferior budget and players 🤷‍♂️
        Genuine question, u prefer Conte? Klopp? Are they an actual upgrade? Why?
        PS I’m not saying they can’t do better than current

        1. Apples oranges. Pioli is not successful in the CL at all. We do better in the league, but again comparing Premier and seria a is 🍎 🍊.

          Klopp al the way.. he would be a massive upgrade. Why? Because he actually knows what’s he doing and what he wants from his players. Pioli is a child compared to klopp. He also has hair, idk if that’s relevant but fun trivia

          1. Hahaha 😂 what a Nice cop out. Just cough it up to differences in leagues, which we’re not talking about. We’re talking about how they did within each respective league so the across quality difference don’t matter. And he had a top 2 or 3 team most of the time in the league and maybe top 5 across Europe. We were nowhere near top 10 teams in Europe yet we made a UCL semi (“Pioli is not successful in the CL at all”). So since EPL is so superior I guess our semi count more than his UCL? How does that work?!
            And what metric are you using to say Klopp is definitively better? “Trust me bro” science? Lol. All you can say is trust me… he knows what he’s doing? Ok. Let’s look at cold hard facts. Are you comfortable with getting 8th or 4th place for several years in a row (I’ve already seen how much fans on this site complian about 3rd) before we get the holy grail? I highly doubt it. But that’s what Pool owners did didn’t they? That’s why Klopp’s success is magnified ….patient owners….which brings me back to the very first point.

          2. No cop out. Its the truth. You dont like it, i dont like it but reality is Milan would not make top 5 in Premier (like ever), competition is much higher. And our semis were a fluke. Just pure luck.

            And yes pioli is not successful in CL at all. Just look at the ppm and all is clear. Its one thing to be patient with a coach who knows what he is doing and another to be with a bald failure who cant even get a decent system going after 5 years.. The ‘ball to leao system’ barely works. The dai dai can only get you so far. I think we can do better.

            Trust me bro works just fine. as long as you trust me. People trust in god who is much less real than me, 4 example. So i dont see a problem.

          3. Hahahahaha ok I get it now you simply hate Pioli. Kool beans
            “Milan would not make top 5 in Premier” I thought…apples and oranges?? . Maybe the whole Serie A won’t make top 5 😂😂😂 make up your mind. You lost me at the end there btw
            The weird thing is I rate Klopp highly but I dont think he’s coming and I think Pioli has done an excellent job. Don’t forget where we were 5 years ago. We don’t have the funds to spend 70m on a goalie like Pool. So like you said ….apples and oranges
            PS in none of the multiverses am I trusting a dude name flying turtle 🤣🤣🤣

  2. Wasn’t Juventus trying to win the UCL?
    He quit on them a week into pre season.
    The coach after him went to the final that same season and once again 2 years later.
    Wasn’t Chelsea trying to win the UCL?
    They won it a couple years after Conte overstayed his welcome.
    Same situation at Inter. He quits on them, 2 years later Inter is in the UCL final.
    The clubs were right, they had the right ambition, they were ready to make the final steps to win the UCL.
    He says that if you want to win the league or trophies you have to have a stable club. Yep, but you also need a stable coach, not a petulant child who quits if he doesn’t get ALL of the toys he asked for.

    1. This ^^

      While I hold suspicion of Pioli and his tactics, I am mystified that I read headlines everywhere about the injury crisis at Real Madrid knowing that:
      (A) Pioli is without his first three choices at CB
      (B) We ship too many goals

      Seems those things might be strongly correlated

      Conte would table flip and give us the peace-out. Pioli, for all the speculation on his job security, continues to be a pro.

      “Petulant child” – well stated.

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