Conte all set for Juve return

Juventus head coach Antonio Conte is relishing taking charge of his first home match of the season and has hailed the club's fans for their support during his exile.

Last Updated: 11/12/12 at 16:29 Post Comment

Antonio Conte: Thanks supporters for standing by him

Antonio Conte: Thanks supporters for standing by him

Conte returned to the touchline in Sunday's 1-0 win at Palermo following a four-month suspension - reduced from 10 on appeal - for his alleged failure to report match-fixing while in charge of Siena.

The 43-year-old is glad to be back on the bench and admitted tomorrow's Coppa Italia clash against Cagliari at the Juventus Stadium will be a special occasion.

"Tomorrow will be emotional for me, but I don't buy into the notion that supporters will come to the stadium just to see me," he told the club's website. "They'll turn up to thank the team and see an entertaining spectacle, as they're used to doing. I hope I can reward them with a win.

"The fans have been fundamental in the moments of anger and discouragement. They've always pushed me to keep going, they've stayed close to me and never failed to show their support.

"What I've missed the most, though, is the physical contact with my players. Embracing them at the end of the Palermo game was the best thing about coming back."

Juventus have hardly stagnated in Conte's absence and are on course for an historic, if highly unlikely at this stage, treble.

The Bianconeri are four points clear of the chasing pack at the top of Serie A in their bid to retain a Scudetto they won last season, and with the club also competing in the Coppa Italia and the Champions League, the Turin club are flying.

Yet Conte is urging caution, saying: "We're certainly more aware of our capabilities. At this time last year we were still a big question mark.

"This year there's greater conviction, brought about from winning the Scudetto and Supercoppa, reaching the Coppa Italia final and being deservedly top of the league.

"We've got a four-point lead over second place and it's a good margin, but it could be easily reduced if we don't keep winning."

While Conte has bemoaned Juventus' lack of outlay over the summer, he is convinced his current group of players are good enough to win back-to-back league titles.

"This year we dipped into the transfer market without splashing money around, looking to reinforce the foundations we had in place with players such as (Kwadwo) Asamoah and (Mauricio) Isla, bringing (Sebastian) Giovinco back and acquiring free transfers like (Paul) Pogba," Conte added.

"I hope that one day we'll be able to purchase players worth 35, 40, 45 million euros. Then we'll be able to start looking at the likes of PSG, Real (Madrid), the two Manchester sides and Bayern (Munich).

"Now we need to remain calm and continue our path. It's important to follow up last year's Scudetto achievement, whilst maintaining our Champions League run to continue the project started by the club.

"There are teams like Inter, Milan, Roma, Lazio and Napoli who will do everything to enjoy a strong season and we mustn't ever give up. We need to be ruthless, determined and eager. It would be nice to win it again."

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