Antonio Conte’s Fishing Expedition

Chelsea

After managing Bari, on Italy’s Adriatic coast, it would be far to say that Antonio Conte knows a fair bit about fish and how difficult it can be to corral them and lead them in the same direction. ‘Difficult’ was one of the first English words that Antonio learned and one that he and we will never forget.

Our reporter caught up with him at the London Aquarium this week, as he rewarded his players for their performance against Middlesbrough on Monday evening with a fish-by-fish fact-finding tour.

Reporter (for data protection purposes and reasons of personal safety we are keeping this person’s identity secret but can assure all readers that no football managers were hurt in the making up of this interview): “So, Antonio, you said that you wouldn’t watch the Spurs game at West Ham on Friday. Did you?”

Antonio: “No. I was in London.”

Reporter: “As is the, er, London Stadium.”

Antonio: “Is difficult, I know. The traffic. The queues. The bubbles.”

Reporter: “But you must have been made aware of the result?”

Antonio: “Overcooked. I was with my wife and daughter. They chose three meatballs at the back but I was forced to make a change with calamari up-front. Is difficult … and chewy.”

Reporter: “Don’t tell me; you forgot your wallet?”

Antonio: “When you sit in a restaurant where a meal costs 100 euros, you can’t think about eating with just 10 euros. You go Roman.”

Reporter: “You grill them; make threats?”

Antonio: “No. You go to Roman. He sorts.”

Reporter: “And yet, here we are with your players, staring at fish, staring at us?”

Antonio: “We need to look at ourselves. Just as the fish do. I had wall-to-wall mirrors installed at Cobham but was not easy.”

Reporter: “A bit too narcissistic?”

Antonio: “You’d have to ask Nemanja about him. He is not a player I have seen personally.”

Reporter: “What did happen at Cobham then?”

Antonio: “Each time my players stand in front of one of the mirrors, N’Golo tries to tackle them from behind. Is easy mistake to make. He is trained to take out anyone who gets in front of him and doesn’t do reflection.”

Reporter: “But you didn’t seem to miss him on Monday?”

Antonio: “Against Middle Borough? They are known as ‘Smoggies’ I think. Is important to know this as otherwise, the fish may be too strong. Everything smoked. Including the fans. Now the manager perhaps?”

Reporter: “I was thinking of Fàbregas. Quite a performance!”

Antonio: “But he wants to play every game. Is important to focus on football, not tennis and golf and bullfighting. Diego knows this also.”

Reporter: “That long fish looks a lot like Diego.”

Antonio: “With the beard? No this is a Bates fish. Its mouth is always open, even after it has eaten everything in sight.”

Reporter: “And that blue and white striped one?”

Antonio: “Is a Poch. Is always in the lead of the pack – the Shola I think they call it in Nigeria – before getting cold gills and falling behind again.”

Reporter: “That one has a big forehead and a strange, dragon-shaped tail.”

Antonio: “Is a Pulis. Very dull fish. Not much to look at but that tail, it can sting.”

Reporter: “Oh dear, look: there seems to be an older, greyer fish, floating on the surface.”

Antonio: “Is a Pioli. They come from Parma originally but try to swim with bigger fish. Is important to know your place. I knew where Juventus was but the Pioli it loses its way and heads up in Milan.”

Reporter: “You mean ‘ends up.’”

Antonio: “Head up … is a dangerous place. Too many stripes.”

Reporter: “So, you won’t be heading in the same direction?”

Antonio: “One game at a time. One day at a time. One parsley and thyme – especially on salmon.”

Reporter: “Of course. You don’t want to end up like that fish in the corner. Nobody seems to want to swim with it.”

Antonio: “Is a Moyes fish. Is from Scott’s Land? He went out one day and never came back? It looks beautiful but is much too soft on the underbelly. Never looks at itself because it doesn’t really like what it sees.”

Reporter: “Well, thank you, Antonio, for enlightening us!”

Antonio: “Is my pleasure and my motto: is important not to get hooked, as you might drown.”

About the Author

Mark Rasdall
I am a writer and football historian. My background is in information architecture and online search and all of this has come together in The Football Ground at www.thefootballground.com