Asmir Begovic says head coach Antonio Conte has raised the standard of expectation at Chelsea from last season’s failed Premier League title defence.
Chelsea lie fourth in the table after 10 matches and closed to within a point of leaders Manchester City after an impressive 2-0 win over Southampton at St Mary’s on Sunday, with goals from Eden Hazard and Diego Costa securing a fourth consecutive league victory.
Conte’s decision to switch to a 3-4-3 formation has created a new balance in his Chelsea team, yielding 11 goals scored and none conceded in the last four Premier League matches, while the Italian frequently cites the importance of hard work on the training pitch at Cobham.
It is in his day-to-day work that Begovic believes Conte has had the biggest impact. “He has come in with a new energy and a new intensity,” the Bosnia-Herzegovina international told the Mirror. “And so far, so good. He is bringing the best out of us.
“He pays attention to detail every day and the expectations he has on a daily basis are very high. If we reach that high level every day in training then it translates into games. So I think that those expectations are something very new.
“The way we work on a daily basis is good for us. It is not necessarily longer on the training ground. We manage the hours very well and do whatever work is necessary — sometimes longer if needed, sometimes shorter.”
Conte’s construction of a solid back three unit at Chelsea has prompted comparisons to the hugely successful work he did with Giorgio Chiellini, Leonardo Bonucci and Andrea Barzagli at Juventus, but Begovic insists his manager focuses on more than merely not conceding goals.
“The defensive work is important,” Bagovic added. “He takes a lot of pride in that. But the whole team and the roles of everyone on the pitch are identified equally and every department is important. It starts from the defence, but he puts detail and work into every part of the team.”