Football

Conte in the frame for Italian job

Italian FA's new commissioner says Chelsea boss seems 'eager' to return to Italy

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte is eager to return to Italy and could fill the vacant position as national coach, newly appointed Italian FA commissioner Roberto Fabbricini said.

Conte left the job for Chelsea after Euro 2016, but replacement Gian Piero Ventura was sacked after Italy lost to Sweden in the World Cup play-off last November.

And speculation over 48-year-old Conte’s future has grown after Chelsea were beaten 3-0 by Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday.

Fabbricini said former Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini, currently in charge of Zenit St Petersburg, Carlo Ancelotti, who is available after being sacked by Bayern Munich, and Nantes coach Claudio Ranieri, who led Leicester City to the Premier League title in 2016, were also candidates.

“The names are the ones you know,” the new FIGC commissioner confirmed after his appointment on Thursday.

“Mancini was in Rome but we didn’t contact him, Conte seems eager to wear Azzurro again, Ancelotti opens and closes the door and Ranieri isn’t out either.”

Ventura was fired after Italy failed to reach the World Cup Finals for the first time since 1958 and FIGC president Carlo Tavecchio resigned.

After elections this week failed to return a successor to Tavecchio, the Italian Olympic Committee appointed Fabbricini as emergency boss for at least six months.

“There’s no one in pole position, we have to evaluate the pros and cons,” he continued. “Now though we’ll evaluate what to do together with (sub-commissioner Alessandro) Costacurta.”

Former AC Milan great Costacurta was named as one of two deputy commissioners to work alongside Fabbricini.

The 51-year-old former Italy defender played a key role in AC Milan’s golden era.

“We have to start talks soon,” said Costacurta of their search for an Italy boss.

“The names are those already heard, like Mancini who shared matches with me on the national team and also military service.

“Conte performed a sporting miracle at the last European Championship.” 

Conte, meanwhile, said on Friday (Feb 2) that he remains the best man to lead the Londoners despite an alarming dip in form from the Premier League champions in his second season in charge.

Wednesday’s shock 3-0 home defeat to Bournemouth left Chelsea down in fourth, 18 points off runaway league leaders Manchester City, and fighting just to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

Conte has also repeatedly voiced his frustrations at his lack of input over the club’s transfer policy, further fuelling speculation he won’t remain in charge at Stamford Bridge beyond the end of the season.

“I trust in my work and this is the only way that brought me to be one of the best managers,” said Conte, who won three Serie A titles in a glorious three-year spell in charge at Juventus.

“I don’t trust in anything else, only in my work and my job.”

Conte labelled his preparations for Wednesday’s defeat as “disastrous” as Chelsea finally landed Olivier Giroud from Arsenal as a striking alternative to the injured Alvaro Morata, while the out-of-favour Michy Batshuayi was allowed to join Borussia Dortmund, for whom he scored a double on his debut in Saturday morning's 3-2 win over Cologne.

However, Conte is wary of throwing Giroud straight into his starting line-up for the trip to Watford on Tuesday morning (Singapore time).

“We are working with him and we have to check his physical condition. It won’t be easy for him to start against Watford,” added Conte. – AFP

Antonio Contechelsea