Marco Amelia lived only one season at Chelsea, as the third goalkeeper, but even if it was the unluckiest campaign of the past twenty years the Italian stopper remained a Blues at heart, admitting that he often come back to Stamford Bridge to watch his team playing.
We had the pleasure to speak with the 2006 World Champion about Chelsea and Premier League and, like many football fans, he reckons that Antonio Conte´s side are the favourites in the current title race:
“I think Chelsea the favorite because are the most continuous team this season, they reacted well to White Hart Lane defeat and I guess no other team can challenge them, so I think they are the favorites: Conte is working really well and the players wants redemption from the past season.
Asked what the Italian boss brought to Chelsea this year, Amelia said:
“Conte is a winner, he’s got that in his DNA, he found a motivated team, that wanted redemption. The players are following him, he was really clever to adapt to a new football and a new league: maybe they were a little lucky in the first 7/8 games when they had some issues, when the manager was adapting to a new culture but they pushed back and then Antonio made a good decision to change the tactical system, so the team could adopt better his method.
Last season things didn’t work out well and Amelia explained us his special inside view of what the situation was:
“Last year I arrived after seven/eight games, after Courtois got injured, and speaking of results the situation was already difficult: the team were mentally flat, because the league they won with Mourinho in 2015 was the cherry on top of many trophies they won in the past years – since they won the Champions League in 2012 – so they had a psychological decline because they were satiated from these triumphs, maybe they had too many holidays as well.
“I remember some incredible defeats against Bournemouth, Liverpool and Southampton at Stamford Bridge where the team played well and were unlucky, and then the opponents won with late minutes goals, so it was undeniable that something was lacking in the mental aspect and when you start collecting negative results, many issues pour out and increase the difficulties and the tensions.”
Rumours were claiming that some players in the squad were against manager José Mourinho and unperformed to get him sacked, the so called “rats”, but Marco denies this allegations:
“It is absolutely false that some players were playing against Mourinho, they were just too relaxed and I remember reading the names of some “rats” in the papers and I was laughing because people like Diego Costa or [Cesc] Fabregas were some of the players that were closer to him, and I saw that many of them were really sorry when he was sacked but at the end it was good for everyone because Chelsea got Conte and Mourinho was appointed by Manchester United, that probably was his dream job.
“In the end of the last season we thought a lot about the following campaign, we were concerned about keeping the group united and not create more tensions and there was a great will of redemption for this year, so Conte found a team ready to fight that made his job a little easier, then of course he could motivate them again with his charisma and leadership, he was really good in this.”
Speaking again about Conte and his capacity to transform a team that last year reached the 10th position in the table, he said:
“The two-year-experience with the Italian national team helped him to rest a little bit and to know better other football cultures, furthermore he signed the contract three months before the end of the other season, so he was mentally ready and he could prepare himself for this adventure: he had a great impact on the squad and he was really wound up for this new experience.
Chelsea will face Liverpool and Arsenal in the next two league games, probably two of the most difficult steps in the title race, especially because the team will have three matches in one week, a thing they are used to this season because they are missing European competitions, but Amelia thinks that the Blues can overcome these obstacles with their superb form:
“I think that now Chelsea are difficult to stop, also the next two games against Liverpool and Arsenal, they can manage themselves and they got two results out of three that can be useful for them: it’s very difficult to score against the Blues in this moment, Courtois is on top form again and the team is very well organized. Then, when we speak about football we know that everything can happen, but I see them almost unstoppable now.”
Marco also revealed us he is still in contact with some of his former team-mates:
“I am still in contact with the goalkeepers and John Terry, sometimes I come to London to watch some games.”
Follow us for more words from Marco tomorrow: Chelsea youngster, a proper captain like John Terry, Mourinho at Man United, Guardiola at Man City, his future and more.