Chelsea manager Antonio Conte was the recipient of much acclaim last year, approaching the end of last season the italian was living the dream, he had taken the league by storm and turned the flickering blue fire at stamford bridge into a raging mechanical inferno dismantling everything in its path. Chelsea stormed to the title spurred on by their passionate manager, kicking every ball on the sidelines. It seemed like Chelsea had finally found a long term successor to portuguese icon Jose Mourinho, if the FA cup touchline ‘fracas’ between the two managers was anything to go by Chelsea had at least found someone who could give it as good as José.
Eden Hazard was in sparkling form, Diego Costa was at his bullish best for large parts of the season and Conte had managed to phase out struggling players like Ivanovic. Not to mention he managed to bench Mr Chelsea himself, John Terry for almost the whole season without a sniff of a dressing room revolt. All the managerial turmoil belonged at the Emirates with Arsene Wengers contract situation dominating the headlines.
Fast forward a few months into the 2017/18 season and it seems we are looking at shades of Mourinho 2015/16. There is a different mood around the club, Conte is more reserved, less jovial and even the moments of celebration seem to be born out of relief rather than the childish delight of yesteryear. Chelsea are behind the Manchester clubs in the league table and whilst it is very early in the season there are similarities between Conte and many of his predecessors who parted with their jobs prematurely.
There are questions being raised asked about his relationship with his players similar to Mourinho and AVB’s troubles in the dressing room, further highlighted by the Costa saga this summer. There were reports of the players being unhappy with the intensity of training amidst European and domestic football. All this followed by an uninspiring start to the season and the mere fact he is in the hot seat as Chelsea manager. Chelsea and Conte in general don’t look to be laying the roots for a long term relationship, highlighted by the bizarre nature of his contract renewal if you can call it that.
A win against Manchester United relieved some of the pressure on Conte, but again the pre-match build up was plagued with rumours of an apparent falling out with key player David Luiz. Technical director Michael Emenalo with whom Conte had a reportedly strained relationship with, suddenly resigned before the end of the subsequent international break(although maybe thats not a massive loss). All doesn’t seem right at Chelsea, the club don’t seem to be moving forward in unison, and unless the next few months are uncharacteristically smooth, I don’t envision Conte managing Chelsea past next season.