When one takes in all of Juventus’ latest success, Antonio Conte’s name immediately pops to mind. The two have become synonymous with each other. But no sooner had the freshly-crowned Italian champions sealed another incredible year then the Coach straightaway dampened the heady atmosphere.
“These things go in cycles and I’ve already told the club what I think. We will soon clarify the situation. If there was a unity of ideas to leave with great affection and respect, then I would evaluate other projects that intrigue me,” the 44-year-old reflected on Sunday. If there was any way to sour the Old Lady’s first hat-trick of titles since the 1930s, or the feat of achieving a new League points record, Conte had certainly found it.
His statements form part of the narrative that looks like an increasingly pitched battle to keep the trainer occupied in Turin. Domestic dominance has been forthcoming, though it’s assumed that Champions League success is now the tactician’s personal bugbear.
There was the challenge from Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s Milan and then Edinson Cavani’s Napoli, but Juve pulled out all the stops in two excellent campaigns. Yet they spectacularly bowed out of Europe’s premier club competition in the group stages this season.
A run to the Europa League semis followed, but playing the final in their own stadium still proved a bridge too far. Back in Serie A and now fresh from staving off a Roma side that challenged them with remarkable levels of consistency, Conte rightfully craves a European triumph.
That confirmation that he is a member of the coaching elite need not arrive in Turin. For consecutive summers, greener pastures abroad have beckoned via rumours and media speculation. So far, Conte has not penned a contract extension yet as he questions his ability to take the Bianconeri any further beyond the third Scudetto he has deemed ‘historic’.
But Marcello Lippi assures the mastermind will stay as long as there is unfinished business at the club. “When I read he could leave Turin, I remember the love he has for this club and I doubt he’ll leave before achieving something important in Europe too,” the man who Conte won the Champions League with as a player, stated. And that reality, coupled with the outfit’s frightening room to grow, would appear to pour cold water on the exit talk circulating.
After all, the challenge has far from dried up. Juventus have only looked increasingly rabid for success over time. The present setup already bears Conte’s mark after being ingrained with his insatiable desire to win. It’s no coincidence the boss’ third year at the helm has coincided with the biggest return in sporting achievement. Not many other vacant sides can boast a springboard similar to Juventus’ to launch bids for silverware from.
The club will continue providing their former midfielder with the means to nurture his ambitions while offering a sheltered existence. “Conte has benefited from experience, as he is coaching at the same club where he played for many years. The advantage is that he’s more protected. The longer he resists the fascination of trying a different League, the better,” another former Coach and serial winner, Giovanni Trapattoni, pointed. Indeed, there couldn’t be a better match at present. Just as Juventus need Conte, Conte needs Juve.
With the tipping point to further growth now arrived, Conte can immediately reap the fruit of his own labour. What’s left is merely to fine-tune the machine. Surely it is only a matter of time before all the final details separating the sleeping giants from belated recognition on the continent fall into place.
Arrangements are thought underway to prepare the squad for a return to the 4-3-3 and the expressiveness necessary to take on Europe’s other heavyweights. Meanwhile, just as quality signings like Carlos Tevez immersed their title hopes in newfound credibility last summer, more can be expected to arrive as Conte pushes for a revolution of the playing staff available.
He will find plenty of stimulation as he strives to make his club exceptional. The room for improvement represents an intriguing project for the Coach to continue applying himself to. There will be no room for uneasy truces when the time comes to commit himself to more time at the helm. Conte’s commitment to the Bianconeri’s cause remains heartfelt and genuine. Together, they can go about much more serious winning.