My love for football is unconditional, yet logical. Every weekend, I am willing to spend much time to watch football matches and analyse it. If the match is completely mesmerizing, I will be watching the match over and over again for the rest of the day, then make a depth-analysis about it. No matter how old I am, this beautiful game never ceases to amaze me with its spectacle.
Some of my colleagues keep restating that watching football is unproductive. They view football as trivial, worthless entertainment, then advise me to leave it. However, I have a different perspective about football. In my opinion, football is more than an entertainment. It can be another source of learning regardless of your college major – or who you are.
I have proved it in my undergraduate thesis. In some communities, watching football becomes an activity for nurturing and maintaining cultural values. They do not watch for the sake of watching or leisure. Rather, football matches emerge as vehicle for socializing and exchanging ideas. Some of them even get the idea of glocalization –utilize foreign values and interpret them in local context.
That is one of several examples of watching football. However, I don’t want to talk about the perks of being football fans in this piece. There is another lesson that I’ve gained from football and I have tried to apply it on my daily life. No, it’s not about the habit of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo. All I want to talk about today is about Antonio Conte – and especially his “Midas Touch”.
Conte is an Italian manager and famous for his tactical approach in Juventus and Chelsea. This season, he brings Chelsea to brink of Premier League title and FA Cup. However, his success isn’t built in a fortnight. I find three steps behind his achievement in Stamford Bridge and try to write it concisely.
The first step is setting a goal. Conte came to Chelsea last summer and set a clear goal for The Blues, to win. This was the first step he took before building a tactic and he tried to put this target in everyone’s mind. With the same objective in mind, he believes that any team could walk firmly and win anything.
“When you are a player, a footballer, or a manager of a great club like Chelsea, you must play to win. To win. To win title. Or to fight and, at the end, to compete with the other teams to win the title and reach your targets,” said Conte in his first press conference as Chelsea’s manager – he already announced his target on the first day.
Second, he built a system. Conte arrived at Chelsea after the giant slipped away and finished 10th in the last season. After setting a goal, adapting to the environment, he started to build his own system. It was not all about tactic here, but system – started from the daily rules, training program, and short-term targets.
It was not easy for him to build the system because his players were not discipline enough. All of the players didn’t even have any patience to watch video replays, which is important for the team’s growth. “Honestly, honestly, my players, they are not used to it (videos),” Conte told BBC’s Premier League Show. At the start we found a bit of difficulty, because after 5/10 minutes (they get bored). It was very difficult. But then we started to see it in the right way.”
Third, Conte always evaluate and innovate his system. At first, he applied four-backs formation and Chelsea did well. However, well is not enough. He wanted to be perfect, so he always evaluated the performance and did some innovations on it. “We watch the game not to find who is at fault because we conceded a goal – no. Only to improve. The most important thing for me is to build a team. Every single player must put their talent into the team.”
To sum up, I learn three things about Antonio Conte’s approach in Chelsea. He always starts with a goal, long-term and short-term. Then, he builds a system to reach the short-term targets and do it daily so he can leap to the long-term. Of course, the system is never perfect, but he tries to make it perfect by evaluating and innovating.
There are countless things to learn from football. Conte’s approaches are just one in a million. Some people may see this game as useless, yet I view it with different perspective and gain many benefits. I do believe that there is nothing futile as long as I put much effort and look beyond the surface. As Oprah Winfrey said, there is a lesson in almost everything that you do, and getting the lesson is how you move forward.
Fuck you, Oprah! Fuck you, Conte!
King Midas is popularly remembered in Greek mythology for his ability to turn everything he touched into gold.