Sports / Soccer

Conte to turn Chelsea's 'small flame' into 'blazing inferno'

(Agencies) Updated: 2016-07-15 09:21

Conte to turn Chelsea's 'small flame' into 'blazing inferno'

New Chelsea manager Antonio Conte show up at at Stamford Bridge in London, July 14, 2016. [Photo/Agencies]

LONDON — Antonio Conte plans to infuse Chelsea's players with the same passion he shows on the touchline and turn the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge from a "small flame" to a "blazing inferno."

Twelve days after his two-year stint with Italy ended at the European Championship, Conte was presented as the new manager of Chelsea ahead of his first spell in English football.

His immediate brief is simple: Restore Chelsea to being a Premier League title contender. After winning the league at a canter in 2015, the London club put up a woeful defense of the title — costing coach Jose Mourinho his job — and finished in 10th place.

Chelsea won't be playing in Europe next season.

"We must think about the present," Conte said in the Harris Suite at Stamford Bridge. "We must stay there at the end of the season, to fight for the title and be there for the Champions League.

"Chelsea belongs in the Champions League, and we must stay there."

Conte suggested Chelsea would not be among the title favorites.

"We are under-rated a bit, and might slip under the radar," Conte said, "but I hope there's a small flame flickering here that can hopefully grow into a blazing inferno."

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