Nathan Quao writes: 6 lessons from Chelsea’s successful EPL season

Last season, when Leicester City won the Premier League title, I penned down a few lessons I thought people in business in management could learn and apply to get them success in their work.

This season, the ribbons on the Premier League trophy belong to Chelsea and their journey has some brilliant points of wisdom people can note of and use.

Find a rallying point
When the season started, Chelsea wanted to right the wrongs of the previous season and it was very obvious from the things the players and the new coach, Antonio Conte said.

They had to prove to themselves that they were good enough to challenge for the biggest prize in English football but they needed to be on the same page. That is very important if you want your entity to go far. Management and staff need to understand what the goal is and they all need to push in that direction.

Leaders Must Have Plans That Work
Leaders Must Have Plans That Work Getting people to go with you on a venture or a new strategy will require that you have a plan and that plan must work. I agree that sometimes, what you have on your hands is just a concept.

However, if your circumstances are very similar, then transposing that idea is not far from wrong. Conte had worked with a 3-4-3 that had given him success at Sienna, Juventus and the Italian national team and he got the players to believe in it. Once it was accepted by the players, they utilized it very well and they were rewarded with the league title.

Adversity can be good; embrace it and learn from it 

My previous point focused on Antonio Conte’s 3-4-3 and how he got the players to understand it for their success. Well, the change in direction came after a chastening 3-0 loss to Arsenal in September.

Then, questions were asked by critics and Chelsea needed to respond. They found a response but they did so when they were at their lowest point. That period first leveled them and then it galvanized the unit for them to find a common point of unity for their forward march. During a tough period, find the positives and use the sombre times to reflect, reset, and respond.

Find the right men for the job and always make room for contingencies 

Antonio Conte set about his finding the tools for his 3-4-3 to work very quickly when he got the Chelsea job by signing N’Golo Kante, David Luiz and Marcos Alonso. The three signings were needed to handle the toughest part of the 3-4-3 formation: defensive protection and wing play.

Getting Kante meant that his team had enough defensive security and it could play with a lot of attacking flair and ease which would aid Eden Hazard as he frankly disliked the duties of tracking back and leading attacks in Jose Mourinho’s era.

Conte then kept Victor Moses at the club (from going on another loan spell) and managed to get Pedro going once again. Hazard could do as he pleased to his opponents and ultimately, he powered Chelsea to the title. Conte even had the luxury of Cesc Fabregas, Willian and Michy Batschuayi on his bench. When one is seeking success in business, getting the right people is very important but more importantly, as Conte has shown, sometimes, you will need some people to hold the structure steady while others can do their magic. All hands need to be on plough, yes, but if someone must hold it more often for the expert sower to do his bit for the entity benefits, why not?

Take advantage of your competitors’ struggles to win

People say that Chelsea succeeded because they did not have demands from the Champions League or that Manchester United were not in good shape or Manchester City had their own problems.

Chelsea did not have to bother themselves with all these observations. They had a plan and if, their competitors were tripping over themselves, that was not their burden.

When competition fails, you need to strike quickly. In warfare, there is no time for mercy. Fleet Admiral William Halsey often told to his troops to”hit hard, hit fast, hit often.” Chelsea must have read those notes carefully because they did these three things in super-efficient fashion.

My MD says a major lesson he learned from working with Coca Cola was to leave nothing for competition to feed on. That is exactly what Chelsea did and they got the prize.

Have a backup plan
Perhaps, this was biggest drawback of Chelsea’s success. Conte lives and dies by his 3-4-3 formation and he will hoist it on his team until they get it right. It is a very good trait to have because teams went to copy the formation for their own use. But then, Chelsea failed to find a plan B and it bothered them sometimes.

Their defeats to Tottenham and Manchester United were all based on the fact that the opposition studied the Blues inside out and once the 3-4-3 was countered, they were sitting ducks.

Always think of and for competition. Ask yourself if you will have a response if your plan or strategy is countered and neutralized. If the answer is no, then start thinking about a counter plan because in business, rivals will jump on a good thing and you must be prepared to outwit them again and again if you will dominate in your space.

It has been a wonderful Premier League season for everyone who followed it from the beginning and it can only get better next season.

By: Nathan Quao/