Former Chelsea boss full of praise for Conte

Carlo Ancelotti has heaped praise on the impact compatriot Antonio Conte is having at Chelsea, who appear to be running away with the league title.

The Blues beat Stoke City 4-2 on New Year’s Eve to equal a Premier League record of 13 consecutive victories, and they will look to further extend this run when they travel to Tottenham Hotspur on Wednesday night. Such a winning sequence has allowed the Stamford Bridge club to open up a five-point lead at the top of the table, with a game in hand.

This is even more impressive given that the capital club finished a lowly tenth place last season, and that this is Conte’s first campaign in English football. Such a run has not been lost on Ancelotti, who led Chelsea to the league title in 2009-10, and the current Bayern Munich coach has been quick to praise the impact of his Italian compatriot.

“What Conte is doing is extraordinary,” the 57-year-old, who also led the Blues to the FA Cup to complete a double, told the Gazzetta dello Sport. “Antonio has determination, ideas, personality and experience. He’s mature as a coach now and I’m truly happy for him.”

One of the biggest reasons for Chelsea’s surge to a sixth league title has been the form of Diego Costa. The Spanish international scored just three times before Jose Mourinho was sacked in December, after which he added 13 to his tally. This time round he already has 15, and he admits he is glad he didn’t pursue a transfer during the summer window.

“Could I have gone in the summer? Yes, yes,” said Costa. “I was about to but, well, I’m happy here as well and that’s that. Did I want to go? Yes, yes. I had the possibility to go to Atletico Madrid, because of a few things, the family, the life I have there but here, there’s a lot of love with the supporters, with the people, so I’m here very happy, I’m very content.

“People love me a lot. It was important too that the manager, from the very first minute, said he counted on me. The truth is the manager is good with the players, every time making more jokes with the players, and that’s good for us, to have a manager who is not just a boss but like a person we can talk with, someone whose support we can count on in difficult moments.”

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