Michael Ballack hails Antonio Conte for reviving Chelsea

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London, Jan 25: Former Chelsea star and German football legend Michael Ballack recently paid a quick visit to his former club and had a close look at the English Premier League leaders.

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Since joining the Blues in 2006, Ballack had spent 4 brilliant seasons at Stamford Bridge. He had won 3 FA Cups and a league cup and also won the UEFA Champions League silver medal in 2008.

Antonio Conte (Image courtesy: Chelsea Twitter handle)

The German talisman had played under Jose Mourinho for just 1 season and thus, he is familiar with Portuguese' work.

Speaking on current Chelsea boss Antonio Conte who has been instrumental in picking up the team from last season's shambles, Ballack said: "The surprise was last year - that they were so bad. It's difficult to compare the coaches in general, because ­sometimes you're at a club at the right time, at the right moment.

"All I can say is I had a great time with Jose, a great time at Chelsea. He was a very special manager who found a very special axis with the players, in terms of communication.

"It was always tense between the coach and the players. Mostly he was pushing us together as a group and was always at the front of the group, protecting us. He was our leader and we went for that away from the tactics and football circumstances.

"We trained day-in, day out and this is something when you work so long together you have to have a groove and create a good ­atmosphere. I think that's so ­important these days if you want to work as a manager.

"These days at Chelsea it looks as if it works, but last year it seems like it wasn't the case - the players and the coach weren't always going in the same direction. And that's why I think it didn't work and Conte now I think he has found that key.

"Sometimes as a coach it's difficult to do that over a long period. ­Sometimes you lose it a bit. Even if it's just a few percentage and ­sometimes it is time to have a change and have your input at a new club.

"A new challenge for yourself and the players. I think this is a totally natural process in a football team.

"If you see he's not good enough or this player isn't good enough - it's just sometimes small things aren't like maybe what they were two years ago.

"These days at Chelsea it looks as if it works, but last year it seems like it wasn't the case - the players and the coach weren't always going in the same direction. And that's why I think it didn't work and Conte now I think he has found that key.

"Sometimes as a coach. it's difficult to do that over a long period. ­Sometimes you lose it a bit. Even if it's just a few percentage and ­sometimes it is time to have a change and have your input at a new club.

"A new challenge for yourself and the players. I think this is a totally natural process in a football team.

"So that's why also when you come back to a club where you were already successful, sometimes it's questionable. With him, it didn't really work, especially at the end and they went a different way.

"But Conte is fresh, it's simple football, clear football, very understandable football. He's very competitive and when I talk to him it's like Italian ­football, very organised, very disciplined and controlled."

Conte's Chelsea remained unbeaten for 13 matches before losing Tottenham Hotspur earlier this month. They still have a comfortable lead of 8 points at the top of the table.

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