Chelsea wing-back and Nigeria Super Eagles Forward Victor Moses says he gets confidence playing for Chelsea under the leadership of Antonio Conte as Manager of the Blues.
SkySports reports says: “Every summer he would report to pre-season training at Chelsea, and within a few weeks he would be told he didn’t figure in the club’s plans. From Liverpool to Stoke to West Ham, each loan move seemed to leave him further away from where he wanted to be.”
“It’s frustrating when you know your manager wants to use other players ahead of you and you’ve got to go on loan to different clubs,” he tells Sky Sports in-between striking drills. “You get injured and all of a sudden you’re not getting back in the team. You can’t settle well. You’ve got to move your kids to a new school every season… Stuff like that is always going to play in your head.” Moses said.
Moses trails off as he recalls those times, but this year everything has changed. The Nigeria international has been a revelation at wing-back since Chelsea’s switch to a 3-4-3 formation in October, helping them to the brink of the Premier League title and signing a new long-term contract at the club last month.
It has been an extraordinary turnaround. But as he leans back in one of the faded plastic seats at the home of non-league side Cobham FC, where he is midway through the session testing out the new Nike Hypervenom boots with Chelsea team-mates David Luiz and Willian, Moses insists he never lost faith.
“I’ve never doubted the ability that I’ve got,” he says. “Chelsea is one of the best clubs in the world and I’ve always believed I have the ability to get into the team. I’ve proved that this season. I just kept working hard and kept believing in myself. I’ve moved on from the difficult times now. This is a season I am never going to forget.”
Antonio Conte was the man who made it happen. The Italian came to Moses the day before Chelsea’s pre-season friendly with Liverpool in California to tell him that he would be staying at the club this season. It’s a moment Moses remembers fondly. “For a manager to come up to you and speak to you in that way, it meant a lot,” he says. “I really appreciated it.”
Perhaps it was the kind of special attention he did not receive under previous manager Jose Mourinho. Moses holds no grudges against the man he encountered again at Old Trafford two weeks ago, but when he talks about how Conte has transformed both his own fortunes and those of the club, it’s clear the positive impact his current manager has had on his mind and his game.
“We’ve got a manager now who gives everyone the opportunity to express themselves,” he says. “I felt that from the start, right from the first day of training. He was talking to all the players. There was no favouritism. Everyone was the same to him. As long as you went out and proved yourself, he would give you the opportunity. I was very pleased to see that. It gave me confidence.”
Enough confidence to embrace an unfamiliar wing-back role. “The first time he put me there was the day after we lost to Arsenal,” he says with a smile. “We all knew the formation he liked to play when he was Italy manager, but I had never actually thought about playing wing-back. After the session he went through it all with me, how to play the position and everything. I took it in and didn’t look back.”
He made his first start in a 2-0 victory at Hull which earned him the Man of the Match and Chelsea went on to win 12 consecutive Premier League games with Moses rampaging up and down their right flank.
Moses has become a formidable attacking weapon for Chelsea, contributing three goals and two assists and making more successful dribbles than any other full-back or wing-back in the Premier League this season. With one-on-one coaching from Conte, he has also got to grips with the defensive side of the role.
“He knows I’m good offensively,” says Moses. “He has always said to me that I’m very good in one-v-ones, but defensively he’s always working hard on me in training to make sure I’m solid. It has helped bring my game to another level. He talks to me a lot. I really appreciate that from a manager.”
Moses moved to Stamford Bridge 24 August 2012 after Wigan accepted a fifth bid from Chelsea meeting Wigan’s asking price after four previously unsuccessful bids.