Antonio Conte is one of the most underrated managers in world football who possesses a winning mentality that is second to none. The Italian, who was much aggressive during his playing career, has a similar attitude when it comes to coaching, which often brings the best out of his players.
Conte is an animated figure at the touchline who has an inclination towards perfection and loves to interact with his players throughout the course of a game.
The 52-year-old, who is best remembered for his playing days in Italy with Juventus, has an impressive trophy cabinet to show, but the factor that makes Conte stand out is his capability to bring about massive changes in the fortunes of a club going through a turbulent phase.
Speaking of his achievements, Conte led the Old Lady to three consecutive Serie A titles in the 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons after a phase in which the Italian giants found themselves plying their trade in Serie B (2006-07). He made some crucial signings, including the landing of Paul Pogba from Manchester United in 2012, and turned Juventus into a force to deal with.
After his spell at Juventus, Conte went on to coach Italy’s men’s national team, a team that had not been in contention for silverware since their 2006 World Cup triumph. His reign as Italy manager ended after the Azzurri exited UEFA Euro 2016 in a penalty shootout (6-5) at the hands of Germany, but the Italian gaffer was praised for leading a relatively poor team on paper all the way to the quarterfinals. With wins over Belgium and Spain, the Azzurri surprised many as Conte’s tactical system brought back life into a lackluster Italian outfit.
Conte’s next move saw him become the coach of Chelsea in 2016, who had then just parted ways with José Mourinho. Conte took over the team and led them to Premier League glory in his first season in charge which helped him stamp his authority as a serial winner. In his second season in charge of the Blues, Conte gave Chelsea the FA Cup, but had to leave in the end due to a falling-out with the board.
Conte went back to the Serie A as the coach of a degrading Inter side and made some blockbuster signings like Romelu Lukaku, Achraf Hakimi, Victor Moses and Alexis Sánchez. He turned Romelu Lukaku into a beast and helped the Italian team clinch the Serie A after eleven years.
Now that his stint with Inter is over, Conte is without a club and has already rejected offers from Tottenham Hotspur.
According to reports, Conte wants a convincing winning project, and the best bet in front him is Manchester United.
The Red Devils have not been the same since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013 and no manager, including the likes of José Mourinho and Louis van Gaal, has been able to bring the club back to their former status. Mourinho, however, did give the club three trophies during his reign, but his defensive style of play did not go down well with the fans and the players which ultimately led to his exit.
United’s current man at the helm, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, has somehow brought back confidence and stability in the dressing room, but hasn’t been able to show the results in terms of trophies. Despite blockbuster signings like Harry Maguire, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Bruno Fernandes and Edinson Cavani, the team have failed to prove themselves in crucial games and have often been found playing way too many sideways passes with a noticeable lack of intensity.
This summer, Solskjær has added Raphaël Varane, Cristiano Ronaldo and Jadon Sancho to his roster, but this might be the last season for the Norwegian at Old Trafford should he fail to deliver silverware.
United have the team to win trophies, but Antonio Conte is the mastermind that the team need at the moment. It’s not easy to manage such high-profile players, and unlike Ole, Conte is a proven leader who has managed world-class players and changed their fortunes with his tactical gameplay and right usage.
With all the big clubs now having a proven coach, Conte and United seem to be a perfect match for each other and could bring back the glory days at the red side of Manchester.
Conte, however, likes to play with three at the back, with his full-backs mostly doing the work of wingbacks, while Manchester United have always played with four at the back – something that would be interesting to see if Conte were to end up at Old Trafford, as none of Manchester United’s current right-backs is a good wingback.
Despite the fans backing Ole for his attacking style of play, the gaffer has zero trophies to boast of since his appointment in the 2018-19 season. This might be his last chance to prove himself and a trophy-less year could see him sacked. No matter how much the supporters are fond of Ole as one of their own, Conte’s arrival would definitely bring about a change in United’s transition phase which has been stretched for too long now.
With the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Raphaël Varane, Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Edinson Cavani at his disposal, Conte could give United that extra edge in terms of strategies and tactics.
On the whole, irrespective of the results this year, Manchester United as a club should look forward to Antonio Conte immediately if they want to re-establish their dominance in big tournaments like the UEFA Champions League.