Conte: Value of the coach

On the eve of his first FA Cup final, Antonio Conte has said he hopes to stay at Chelsea for ‘many years’.

A victory over Arsenal at Wembley would secure our eighth FA Cup and a second Double in the club’s history, while for Conte it would be a stunning conclusion to his first season in English football.

Arsenal’s fifth-place finish in the Premier League meant they missed out on Champions League qualification for the first time in 20 years, but Conte was full of praise for Arsene Wenger’s achievements during his time in charge of the north Londoners.

‘I know about Arsenal’s history in the FA Cup with Arsene, they’ve won a lot of trophies,’ said Conte. ‘I’ve never won it. For this reason, tomorrow could be a good possibility for me and my team to lift the trophy. I don’t believe tomorrow will be his last game, he deserves to work with Arsenal because he’s shown in 20 years he’s a great manager and he’s done a great job.

‘Only this season he missed out on the Champions League. Arsenal played in it for 19 years in a row which shows his work was very good.’

Conte went on to explain how he had hoped to observe Wenger at close quarters during a trip to England early on in his coaching career, but sadly never got the chance.

‘Honestly, I tried to contact Arsenal during my experience in England when I visited Chelsea, West Ham and Tottenham, but at that moment they were very busy,’ he recalled.

‘I saw their game against Monaco, when they lost at home in the Champions League, but I never had the opportunity to see him at work during a training session.'

It was a game against the Gunners, back in September, in which Conte first implemented the 3-4-3 formation which would go on to serve us so well and ultimately lead to his side being crowned champions.

The Italian, reflecting on that day at the Emirates in which his side were 3-0 down at the break, admitted the decision was a tough one.

‘At that stage of the season, after two bad defeats, it was very difficult to imagine we would find the right solution so quickly,’ he said.

‘I risked it, I trusted in my idea and in that difficult moment you see the value of the coach. When everything is good your work is sometimes very hard to see, but when there is difficulty you see the value of the coach.’

On the subject of his own future, Conte says himself and the club have already started looking towards next season.

‘At the moment my situation is very clear,’ he said. ‘I have a two-year contract with the club. If they give me the possibility to stay and extend, for sure I’m available to do this.

‘We have the same ideas about the future in terms of improving the squad and the team. I’m happy with this season, I’m happy to stay here and I want to stay here for many years.’