WATCH: Chelsea pair Diego Costa and David Luiz drag boss Conte out of press conference to get the party started
The Chelsea players could wait no longer to celebrate, having been made wait long enough for Michy Batshuayi’s title-winning goal.
At close to midnight and after 13 and a half minutes of Antonio Conte’s celebratory press conference at the Hawthorns, David Luiz and Diego Costa barged their way into the media room overlooking the pitch where they had just claimed a title-winning 1-0 victory over West Brom, and literally bundled their manager out of the room. “No more, no more!” they cried at the journalists. They had a lot more celebrating to do.
The celebrating they had done already was of course one big reason why Conte was so late in, given that he was forced to change out of his now-ruined suit.
“They waited for me after the celebrations with the fans, and put champagne and beer on me,” the Italian laughed. “I think I have to change my suit because my suit is a disaster now. I’m wearing the tracksuit, but I think I’m living a moment very important. I’m enjoying this moment a lot. When you put a lot of enthusiasm and passion and hours into your work, a lot of time not sleeping for your work, it's right to celebrate and enjoy a moment like this. Enjoy it with the fans, the staff, with the club. It's great. This is a dream come true. For sure, it's a dream.”
Conte revealed he had been enjoying it so much that he got a fat lip celebrating. It probably didn’t hurt anywhere near as much September’s 3-0 defeat to Arsenal, the match he then cited as the “key moment” in this title win, because of how it made him realise the need to drastically change things; to go to three at the back and then get three points after three points.
It was its illustrative of the mindset that has driven Chelsea to the title this season. Even in a moment of celebration and fun, Conte instantly got focused when talking about the mechanics of the sport.
I found the strength to change, and take the responsibility to change system and find a new approach for these players. That was the key moment for us.
“Honestly… to find the right solution was not easy, so above all for this I want to thank my players because they trusted in a new work, a new philosophy of football, in the video analysis to see their mistakes and positive and negative situations. I think this result is for this attitude, this behaviour of my players. Every single manager can have a good idea of football, but if you don't have the players behind you, it's impossible to reach targets like this.”
If Conte was suddenly serious talking about that, he was much jokier when discussing one of the key moments of the night: the decision to introduce a player who barely featured in Michy Batshuayi, who then scored the key goal.
“My substitutions were very good!” he laughed again, before praising Batshuayi. “I must be pleased, above all, for him. We all know the season, the difficulty he found in this first season for him. It's not easy to play in this league. I think this league is very strong. This league is fantastic to play in and be a manager in. For him, I'm pleased because he scored two goals this season. These goals were very important for him and for us.
“Michy repaid me a lot for this choice. Willian was also very good. It means I trust in my squad. We have had three competitions this season – league, FA Cup and League Cup – and for this reason I think some players didn't find a lot of space [to play]. But they worked very hard and, today, Michy is a great example. I'm very happy for him. To score an important goal in the Premier League is very important for him.”
Conte had just begun to talk about the message he had received from Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo and whether he’d spoken to owner Roman Abramovich, when Luiz and Costa decided to take control of his press conference.
Having finally finished the job, the party was just getting started.
Independent News Service