Former England manager Fabio Capello has backed Antonio Conte to win the Premier League title with Chelsea in his first season in English football.

Speaking ahead of the Laureus Sports Awards in Monaco on 14 February, the Italian coach credited Conte with changing the mentality of the Chelsea players and making them title contenders again.

Former Juventus and Italy manager Conte inherited a Chelsea squad that finished 10th in the league last season and endured a rocky start to his spell at Stamford Bridge, with the Blues falling to back-to-back defeats against Liverpool and Arsenal in September.

However, his decision to employ a 3-4-3 formation reaped immediate dividends and Chelsea have not looked back since. The Blues are eight points ahead of Manchester City at the top of the table, with 13 matches left to play.

"It's not a surprise. I know him well and he did good things with teams in Italy like Siena and Juventus," Capello was quoted as saying by the Sun.

"He is a really smart manager and understands how to work with players.

"He didn't have a great start after losing four games but he knew something wasn't right in the dressing room.

Antonio Conte
Antonio Conte won three Serie A titles as a coach with Juventus Getty Images

"He got rid of some of the old players which was important and put in new young players.

"He changed the style of the team and the mentality of the team."

Capello cited Diego Costa's successful return to the Chelsea team after reports of a training ground bust-up in January as testament to Conte's man management skills.

"Now you can see a real team spirit. They have a winning mentality. Last year they finished mid-table and this is like a completely different team.

"There are still a lot of games to play, big teams to play and it will be difficult even with nine points but I think he will win the title with Chelsea."

Chelsea's next assignment sees them taking on Wolves in the FA Cup fifth round on 18 February.