Antonio Conte is pound for pound the best coach in Europe

Antonio Conte’s Inter took another step towards the Scudetto with a 2-1 win over Sassuolo at San Siro on Wednesday evening. Romelu Lukaku, a player who has taken his game to a new level under the Italian opened the scoring before the much sought after Lautaro Martinez added a second.

The Nerazzurri haven’t been crowned champions since 2010 but in just his second season in charge, the 51-year-old is on the verge of ending Juventus’ dominance. When he does, he’ll have proven that, without a shadow of a doubt, he is the continent’s best coach.

The outspoken former midfielder divides opinion and has famously fallen out with employers over the years due to his demanding nature but his results speak for themselves.

The rivalry between Juventus and Inter is among the fiercest in Europe and having spent the majority of his playing career in Turin – Conte’s decision to take the reins at San Siro was seen as a betrayal.

Antonio Conte, Andrea Pirlo
Conte enjoyed an incredibly successful stint at Juve manager | Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Aside from having made over 400 appearances for the Bianconeri as a player, he managed them to three successive league titles – starting a period of dominance only he himself is capable of putting an end to.

In 2014, he took charge of the Italian national team and surpassed expectations at Euro 2016 when he guided his unfancied side through to the quarter-finals where they were defeated on penalties by the reigning world champions Germany.

In doing so, Conte proved his tactical understanding of the game and ability to motivate a group could bridge the gap between the Azzurri and some of the more talented sides in the competition.

Following the aforementioned tournament, Conte decided to join Chelsea and to say he hit the ground running would be an understatement. He took a side who finished tenth the season prior to the Premier League title and was unfortunate to suffer defeat in the FA Cup final – showing it doesn’t take months or years for a top coach to turn a club’s fortunes around.

Antonio Conte
Conte guided Chelsea to the Premier League title in his first season | Michael Regan/Getty Images

In his second season, the Blues’ league form wasn’t as impressive but they did make amends in the FA Cup – defeating Manchester United at Wembley.

Conte has never been afraid to make demands of those in control of the purse strings and often that’s one of the first things his critics will point to – but what top coach doesn’t spend money nowadays?

If the results follow – what’s the issue?

Throughout his career both as a player and a manager he has shown himself to be a serial winner. He can come across as abrasive, immature and selfish but while he continues to deliver success that shouldn’t matter – it certainly didn’t when Jose Mourinho was at the top of his game.

Pound for pound, Conte is the best in the business.

His side has averaged 2.3 goals per game in Serie A this season – dispelling the myth his teams only play ‘functional’ football. He’s never more than a tantrum away from walking out of a job but the intensity and passion with which he works is key to him achieving instant results.

It would be disingenuous to deny that as a coach, he belongs at the top table with the world’s elite.

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