Conte at odds with board over No. 2

LONDON • Antonio Conte is in dispute with Chelsea over proposed changes to his back-room staff.

The Chelsea manager has asked for an Italian coach to replace Steve Holland, his assistant, who will leave Stamford Bridge at the end of the season to work as England manager Gareth Southgate's No. 2 on a full-time basis.

However, the club have yet to sanction a new appointment and would prefer to add a home-grown assistant if they do so.

Conte has valued Holland's insight into the Premier League and work on the training pitch during the Italian's first season in England, in which Chelsea are leading at the top of the Premier League, but wants to recruit a compatriot to join his close-knit team.

Many of the Italian's planning meetings and tactical sessions are conducted in his native language, while such is his desire for secrecy that he has been known to speak to some of his assistants using his regional dialect, so that their conversations cannot be widely understood.

Chelsea's view is that any replacement for Holland should be British to provide continuity in the event of future managerial changes, which has been their policy throughout the Roman Abramovich era.

Steve Clarke, Ray Wilkins, Paul Clement, Eddie Newton and Holland have all served as assistants to foreign managers during that period and Chelsea do not want to alter a successful model.

The Blues have also pointed out during cordial discussions with Conte that they were accommodating when he was assembling his back-room staff last year, although the size of his proposed entourage was initially a sticking point in negotiations between the parties.

Conte eventually got what he wanted, with his brother Gianluca, Angelo Alessio, Gianluca Spinelli, Paolo Bertelli, Julio Tous and Tiberio Ancora all joining him at the club, although Chelsea insisted that Holland and fitness coach Chris Jones also remained as coaching staff.

Promoting ex-Chelsea goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini, to a full-time coach from his current role as a club ambassador has been put forth as a compromise.

Conte's relationship with Chelsea remains good despite disagreement over transfers and his failure to sign a new contract.

The 47-year-old wants greater control of transfers and has rejected an offer from Abramovich to pursue Neymar, with Alexis Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku his preferred targets.

THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 06, 2017, with the headline 'Conte at odds with board over No. 2'. Print Edition | Subscribe