Conte here to stay

Posted by Mina Rzouki

Antonio Conte wave JuventusGettyImagesJuventus fans will be praying Antonio Conte does not wave goodbye to Turin anytime soon.

Take a minute and think. It’s quite remarkable how far Juventus have progressed in a few years. Plunged into scandalous depths of despair in 2006, rebuilding only allowed them to reach mediocrity. That is until Antonio Conte came along. Two successive Scudetti and possibly a third on the way, Juventus are back to being the best in Italy and a familiar name in Europe -- one that has regained the ability to attract the very best.

While it’s considered a team effort due to the ambition of the excellent Andrea Agnelli, the logical Beppe Marotta and the passionate Fabio Paratici, Conte has proved to be the key to the Bianconeri’s success. Agnelli may be a Juventino since birth but Conte lived through the club’s most successful period, understood the philosophy and possesses the winning mentality to inspire the Old Lady -- qualities he learned when he was a player at Juve.

Sadly in Italy, longevity is a luxury few can afford or be afforded. As Giovanni Trapattoni explained, the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson can never really exist in the Calcio world simply because Italians are constantly looking for something new or a change in direction. However, Conte and Juventus might just be the relationship that sticks.

The club have always made it clear they want their coach to stay. He may have changed the players’ mentality but he also changed the mentality at Juventus HQ. Alongside him, the directors think bigger, invest more of their time and boast more belief in their success -- his presence has made them more devoted to the job and attractive contacts to be made in this relationship-driven industry.

Off the pitch, he’s a friend. Conte and club directors travel together, dine together and swap ideas to formulate a winning team that simply no other club in Italy can hope to emulate in the near future. The directors, more than the players, cannot imagine their future without him.

Yet despite their adoration, Conte was pensive last summer. Many clubs including the likes of Chelsea admired the winning tactician who changed the fortunes of a fallen giant. That was perhaps enough to get Conte thinking. His ambition is far reaching and while it was important for him to correct the future of his own club, he sought personal fulfillment too -- the opportunity to win elsewhere, to experience new highs and lows and different cultures. Foreign interest in him was there and very real.

For some time, it appeared he wasn’t sure the Bianconeri could give him the platform and the money required to guide the club to European glory. Italy is conquerable but Europe is a whole different ball game. Last year, it was probably fair to say the coach felt he wasn’t afforded the tools necessary to overcome the giants in the Champions League. He didn’t have the players required to switch tactics, alter formations or even offer a plan B -- his ambition was being hindered. It wasn’t that he wasn’t successful, it was that he didn’t have the opportunity to yield the rewards of his vision. It was perhaps then that offers from elsewhere started to prove appealing.

Guarantees were put in place, strategies drafted but did the Old Lady have enough money to invest in her quest for European triumph? Italy, for all its faults, is a difficult country to leave and Conte opted to stay with as he believed that the Old Lady to achieve more, both for his own personal fulfillment and for the good of the team and the squad he helped raise.

This season, Juventus’ run in the Champions League was disappointing to say the least. In many ways, this may prove to be a blessing in disguise. For one thing, Conte cannot blame the lack of talent or alternatives within the squad. Their failure to reach the next level was down to procrastination and lack of effort in the early matches. They had more than enough quality to reach the latter stages, they simply couldn’t.

This has perhaps made the coach think. A passionate individual with a desire to learn, European glory with his Italian giant must be achieved before the tactician is thought of as a true great, a visionary in the eyes of those across the world and not only as a man capable of domestic success.

Conte needs Juventus and Juventus need him, thus it is only logical the coach extend his stay with the club. Recent reports have suggested he will be signing on until 2017. Together, they can explore further paths to success and learn the necessary skills required to be able to survive without one another, as the future may require them to do so.


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