13 Jan Terry the manager
Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte has tipped John Terry to become a manager when he finishes playing.
Conte could be presiding over the 36-year-old captain’s final months as a player, with Terry’s current contract expiring this summer after 18 years and more than 700 appearances.
The Italian had to quickly correct himself when he suggested Terry could become manager of Chelsea, as that is his job. It was a slip of the tongue in a foreign language.
But he was sincere in his belief that the former England skipper, suspended for Saturday’s trip to Leicester, has a future in management if that is his wish.
“I think that when he decides to finish his career, I think he could have a good prospect to become a manager here,” Conte said.
“Not here! Wait – I hope to stay here! But to start a new career as manager.
“He is clever, he is really good at understanding situations and I think it could be a good prospect for him to start a new career as a manager.
“But when he is finished. For now, leave him to play.”
Conte says Terry’s input has been invaluable this season and he will be staying with the Blues despite speculation of a loan move to Bournemouth.
Conte is also grateful for Claudio Ranieri’s advice, particularly on music and eggs.
But the Italians avoided discussing N’Golo Kante’s move from Leicester last summer.
France midfielder Kante was a key figure in the Foxes’ Premier League title triumph and has helped Conte’s transformation of Chelsea, who are five points clear at the top of the table entering this weekend’s fixtures.
Conte said: “I never talked with him about N’Golo. In that case, you are in the market and it is best to think about your team.
“We bought N’Golo because he was fantastic last season with Leicester.
“He is showing with Chelsea that our choice was right to buy him. We paid good money, but his value is good.”
Conte and Ranieri, in the early weeks of the campaign, did discuss life in England. Ranieri was Roman Abramovich’s first manager in his Chelsea ownership, lasting one season.
“His experience here is very important for me,” Conte said.
“If you have another opinion, above all if this person is someone you respect a lot, it’s important. This type of chat helped me a lot.
“He told me to understand these habits in England. For example, the music in the changing room or before the game that the players want to eat eggs.
“(He told me) To accept them quickly and be focused on the more important aspects.”
To former Juventus and Italy boss and midfielder Conte, both eggs as a pre-match meal and music in the dressing room were unfamiliar.
“I am starting now to appreciate this music,” Conte added.
Chelsea resume Premier League duty after Tottenham ended their 13-game winning run and the Blues responded with a FA Cup third-round win over Peterborough.
The positions of Chelsea and Leicester – who are 15th and six points clear of the relegation zone – are a role reversal from last season.
Asked about the Foxes’ struggles, Conte said: “I’m not surprised because this league is very tough.
“For sure I consider Leicester a really good team, with good players. A good mix. They have a great manager. But it can happen, this, in this league. Don’t forget, Chelsea last season.”
Terry was this week linked with a move to Bournemouth, after Nathan Ake was recalled from the Cherries by Conte.
“I speak with him every day and John never talked to me about this situation,” Conte added.
“It means that he is very happy to stay here and, above all, I am very happy that John stays here and helps me.”
Conte was quiet on transfer speculation, but believes the return of Ake, who can play in central defence, the left side, in midfield or left wing-back, is like having a new signing.
“When you have a player who can play different roles, it’s good for me,” Conte said.
“His situation makes me more calm, also in the market, in January.”