‘He lacked understanding’ – Willian opens up on problems with Antonio Conte at Chelsea


Willian has admitted Antonio Conte’s man-management style caused friction between both of them at Chelsea.

Conte won the Premier League title in his first campaign at Chelsea and followed it up with success in the FA Cup in his second season.

But several senior players at the club clashed with Conte towards the end of his tenure, while the Italian manager also fell out with the club’s board.

Willian deleted Conte from a team celebration photo after Chelsea’s FA Cup victory in 2018. And the Brazil international believes the Inter Milan boss ‘lacked understanding’ with his players.

‘Look, I think he’s a great coach. A great coach, he has some ideas, he works a lot tactically, the defensive part as well,’ Willian told UOL. ‘I think that, in the field, the way of working I have nothing to say. He’s a really hard-working guy. He’s a great coach.

‘The problem he had was management, how to manage the group. That’s what he lacked, which is why he ended up having a lot of problems with several players, including me too.

‘So that was really it. I think he was unable to manage and understand that there were many different players, from different countries, players considered stars. Important players for the club too. So I think he lacked that understanding.

‘But even so we were champions, the team really fit this way of playing. I think we took almost all opponents by surprise in this 3-4-3 formation, the wingbacks, so it took everyone by surprise.’

Willian also explained the difference between Conte and Maurizio Sarri, who lasted just one campaign at Stamford Bridge.

‘With Sarri, I think Sarri is a coach who also works a lot tactically, works a lot with the set piece, he offensive part too. It’s a different style of play than Conte’s,’ said the Brazilian.

‘We, with Sarri, we controlled the game much more. With Conte we had more counterattack. ‘So there were two great coaches who really enjoy working, without a doubt they work hard enough to be able to do the best for their team.’


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