Antonio Conte’s assistant manager last season Steve Holland, have revealed Conte always had it in mind to play 3-4-3 before the season started.
Conte switched to the 3-4-3 system after Chelsea’s 3-0 defeat to Arsenal at the Emirates but Holland, who left Chelsea this summer to take up a full-time No2 role under England manager Gareth Southgate, revealed Conte talked about using the 3-4-3 during preseason.
“I spoke with Antonio at the end of the previous season and, like Gareth now, he’d made observations on what he’d seen, what he thought needed to be done and also spoken to people to get that reinforced. Gareth has gone through that same process,” Holland said as quoted by Evening Standard.
“Antonio said to me at the end of last season ‘I think the team can play 4-3-3 with wingers wide, I also think they can play 4-4-2 with wingers wide’. Then he asked me how often they’d played with three at the back in my time, he asked me that question.
“I said never, Chelsea have never played three at the back. He said ‘I think there is a 3-4-3 there as well with the players we have, but because they’ve never done it before it’s not going to be the first thing I visit’.
“We played Real Madrid in the summer, 4-4-2 with wingers wide which we’d trained for a couple of weeks. At that point he decided that wasn’t the best road, he then went 4-3-3, which is what we did for the first three games of the PL season going into the international break.
“We won the three games though the performances weren’t always fantastic, then we had the two games you’re talking about and he decided more or less at half-time of the Arsenal match that we’ve done this, we’ve done that it’s time for this. The rest, as they say is history.
“The process is the same with Gareth, in that he’s trying to work through what is the best way forward given the players we have.”