Antonio Conte took over Chelsea in the summer after the club had disastrously failed in their Premier League title defence.
Former manager Jose Mourinho had left the club four months into the campaign sitting 16th in the table.
Diego Costa and Eden Hazard were both bang out of form, Radamel Falcao had proven a disappointment and interim manager Guus Hiddink was allowed to bring in flop signing Alexandre Pato on loan.
Conte celebrates with Chelsea fans after Hazard scores sensational goal against Arsenal
Sat, February 4, 2017
Antonio Conte was very pleased with Eden Hazard's goal against Arsenal!
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You cannot immediately transform the team from an ugly ducking into a swan
Conte inherited a squad that was not going to play European football this season, with doubts over the futures of many of their top stars.
But eight months later and the Italian has them flying nine points ahead in the Premier League title race.
Conte was given £120million to spend on players – £19m more than what Mourinho was afforded the previous season.
Asked about the transition of the side from mid-table no hopers to league leaders, Conte told Sky Sport Italia: “I have blind faith in what I do.
Antonio Conte (left) took over ex-boss Jose Mourinho's Chelsea side last summer
Antonio Conte was allowed to spend £120m on new players last summer
Mourinho (right) endured a terrible four months at Chelsea last season
“We had won the first three games of the season but I didn’t like the performances.
“It was a delicate time, but not dramatic.
“Looking at last season, when Chelsea had practically the same players, you cannot immediately transform the team from an ugly ducking into a swan.
“At the end of the day we found our balance. The blind faith in my ideas helped.
“I made some strong choices.”