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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Chelsea's Antonio Conte: Experience key for a player to be a manager

The FC crew grade Chelsea's season so far and explain why they have not been overly impressed by the reigning Premier League champions.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte says that he has to make some tough decisions when his players make mistakes, also telling the club website that he is glad he didn't begin his managerial career by taking on a top job too soon.

Conte arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2016 and won the title in his first season. This year has been tougher with four defeats from 19 games, coupled with Manchester City's incredible form, leaving the champions in fourth place -- 16 points off the top.

The Italian has had to deal with some difficult situations, notably a falling out with defender David Luiz, but the manager insists he has learned a lot from his own playing career.

"As a player, I was very lucky to have so many good managers in my career," he said. "I remember the first two at Lecce: Eugenio Fascetti and Carlo Mazzone. They were very important for me and my growth.

"They used the carrot and the stick with me. I brought this type of management with me to use with my players. Sometimes you must use the stick, and sometimes you must use the carrot.

"I prefer to use the carrots! But sometimes it's a necessity to be strong. When someone makes a mistake, it's right to underline this type of situation, and find the best solution to avoid the same mistake in the future."

Pep Guardiola has received a lot of praise for how his City team have blown away the competition this season, while Zinedine Zidane has had the same in winning the Champions League twice with Real Madrid, but Conte insists that going from a player to a manager is a very difficult step.

Conte took some time to adjust to his career as a manager.

"Often a player who had a great career thinks they can become a manager quickly," he said. "But it is one thing to play, and one thing to be a coach. They're totally different. You must try to have the right experience before you can reach a fantastic target.

"For this reason, I preferred to start lower down, and also to have disappointments. When I started, in my first experience as a manager at Arezzo in Serie B, the club sacked me after nine games. Then, they recalled me for the last part of the season. It was very important for me, this experience.

"Whether you work with the best players in the world or lower down, it's always difficult to transfer your footballing philosophy.

"You have to work a lot on tactics, on analysis videos, on technical aspects, and then you have to work a lot on the mentality of your players. It's about trying to transfer your ideas and your mentality. For a coach, the work is very tough, but at the same time you get great satisfaction when you see your team play in the way you like."

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