Antonio Conte reached a compromise with Chelsea’s star players early in the season which proved crucial to their Premier League title charge, according to Hernan Crespo.
Chelsea are on course to win the league in Conte’s first season at the helm, the Blues holding a seven-point lead on closest challengers Tottenham with seven games to play.
The former Italy boss lost two of his first six top-flight games in England, but then oversaw a 13-match winning streak to put his side in pole position for glory.
And Crespo, who won the title with Chelsea in 2006, believes Conte’s change of approach and an agreement with his top attackers was a decisive moment.
“There was great expectation on Conte and a lot of curiosity to see whether he could apply his football vision in the Premier League, where there are many big players,” Crespo said to Omnisport.
“That was a big challenge for Conte and it wasn’t easy – he struggled at the beginning.
“Then, Conte and his players found a middle-ground solution and came to a compromise.
“Conte made sure that the defensive group was solid and reliable, then organised the midfield tactically. It proved to be successful.
“It allowed more freedom to offensive players to express their talent and making that move was key to Chelsea’s success this season.
“Conte deserves much credit for Chelsea’s success. He is proving that once again managers from the Coverciano school [Italian FA headquarters and training centre] are the best tactically, without the shadow of a doubt.”
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Conte’s impact at Chelsea adds to an impressive CV, with his work while in charge of Italy prior to his Stamford Bridge stint particularly impressing Crespo.
“He is replicating at Chelsea what he had already done with his previous teams,” said Crespo.
“Starting from Siena and Bari, they have always proved to be great tactically, with all players knowing exactly how to move on the pitch.
“The greatest example of that was the Italy national team, they produced very entertaining play despite not having any superstars – something that could be achieved only thanks to Conte’s vision.
“His time at Juventus was also like that, at least before Carlos Tevez’s arrival.
“With Tevez, things slightly changed because he is a bit of an anarchist on the pitch – he tends not to follow strict tactics schemes – but Conte’s Juve still managed to win.”
Chelsea are away to Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday.