After a painful season that saw a futile defence of their 2014/2015 Premier League crown, Chelsea fans can now look forward to next season with optimism following the appointment of highly-rated Italian manager Antonio Conte.
With the ‘Special One’, Jose Mourinho, sacked following an unusually poor run of results and his predecessor, Gus Hiddink, leaving at the end of the season, Conte will now be the man to take charge at Stamford Bridge and will assume his duties in West London after leading out his Italy side at the European Championship in France in June.
The early Premier League odds for next season have the Blues down as 6/1 to win the 2016/2017 title and, should they wish to return to fighting it out with the ‘big boys’ in the upper echelons of the EPL table, their new Italian boss should look to reinvigorate the following three players.
Chelsea fans got a glimpse of the ‘old’ Eden Hazard after his classy equaliser against Tottenham Hotspur ironically handed their Premier League trophy over to Leicester City. With another well taken goal in Chelsea’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool and a recent scoring record that has seen him net four goals in his last four EPL appearances (at the time of writing), it will be Conte’s responsibility to continue rebuilding the Belgian’s confidence and turn him into the player we all once marvelled at 12 or so months ago.
During Mourinho’s second stint at the club, Brazilian international Oscar was one of Chelsea’s most important assets, acting as a plucky trequartista who would pull the strings at the tip of the midfield diamond, teeing up chances for the likes of Diego Costa. But along with Hazard (and practically the entire Chelsea squad) he has endured a tough time over at Stamford Bridge this season. At still the relatively young age of 24, the ex-Inter star still has plenty of room to grow in a Chelsea shirt and the Blues’ new manager should work on rekindling the talent of a player who in Chelsea’s title winning season under Mourinho, recorded eight assists and six goals for the club.
Whilst much-maligned in many footballing circles, it cannot be understated the glittering career Chelsea captain John Terry has had during his 18-year tenure at the club. After holding the record for the most goals scored by a Premier League defender and the most clean sheets as well as a host of other accolades, ensuring the 35-year-old will still be around next year in one capacity or another should be Conte’s top priority. After seeing their adopted son, Frank Lampard, leave the West London club a couple of seasons ago only to come back to haunt them as a Manchester City player, Conte could do much worse than tying up Terry for at least another season to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.