Manager merry-go-round at Chelsea, again?
Personally, when Antonio Conte leaves, I won't be so hurt as I had stopped keeping managers close to my heart ever since we sacked Jose Mourinho for the second time.
Antonio Conte's unadulterated passion, touchline antics excited all of the Stamford Bridge faithful and the Chelsea fans all around the world. The Italian master minded to bring a revolution in the style of play in the whole of Premier League by impelementing a certain 3-4-3 formation at Chelsea and opposition teams looked absolutely devoid of ideas when they played against the revitalized Chelsea in his first season.
Two years ago, when Antonio Conte took over from care taker manager Guus Hiddink, he took a team with meagreness, zero morale and mentally distroted after finishing 10th in the League table, their lowest since Roman Abrahamovic took over in 2003. Conte initially managed to bring back the togetherness and belief in the squad. The quality in the side shone through along with Antonio's ideology and astute tactics, they even went on to have an incredible run of 13 consecutive wins. Antonio managed to get the best out of big players such as Diego Costa, Eden Hazard, David Luiz, Nemanja Matic, etc, also re-establishing Moses as a right wing back was a master stroke. The presence of John Terry in the dressing room was vital for Antonio as he helped the Italian to keep the boys together throughout the season.
They won the Premier League title comfortably in the end setting up club records and Premier League records, which got broken by Manchester City this year. Antonio's men were denied a chance to win the historic double as they lost the FA Cup final against Arsene Wenger's Arsenal and Antonio's cup curse continued back then, which also got broken this year amid growing tensions in the managerial department, Chelsea managed to win the FA Cup by beating Manchester United at Wembley.
What went wrong for Antonio Conte this season?
- From the onset of the season, Antonio started to vilify the board at lack of spending on quality players and he kept on moaning about it throughout the season. This could have had a bad impact in the dressing room as it was like an indirect Jibe at the players already under his disposal.
- Other teams started to match Chelsea's formation and they found out a way to halt the Chelsea juggernaut which was running smoothly in their title winning season. Antonio didn't try to change a bit in his approach or ideology, he kept being stubborn with his tactics and which in return costs a lot of points for Chelsea in crucial Premier League games.
- Diego Costa was ready to leave the club anyway but the manner he was booted out of the club by Antonio Conte didn't do any good for the trust and morale of other players in the squad. Nemanja Matic's sale to close rivals Manchester United was also an eyebrow raising move from the club, which in turn backfired to a greater extend as the replacement, Bakayako couldn't find a foot right in his first season in the Premier League
What was Antonio Conte's biggest mistake?
In my opinion, the colossal mistake Antonio has done this season is picking up fight with the Chelsea defender David Luiz. The Brazilian remained as a professional and didn't come out in public to criticize the manager but the uneasiness between him and Antonio was transparent and anyone could have deciphered it. David Luiz was one of the spines along with Diego, Nemanja, Kante and Hazard in their title winning season and Antonio Conte wrongly ousted three of them, in return the spine got ruptured. Antonio decided to bring in youngster Andreas Christiensen in David Luiz's position, who did very well barring some silly mistakes towards the end of the season but he was no David Luiz. The Brazilian has his own flaws but is a natural leader, who can galvanize any team and dressing room. Football is not always about technicality as it's a sport that needs to be played in the most enjoyable format and people like David Luiz are crucial to that aspect of the game. Having picked up a fight with dressing room favorite David Luiz, Antonio started to lose the respect from other key players and they never really looked like playing for the Italian, especially in the second half of the season. It's not like he has lost the dressing room completely as he still pulled them together to win the FA Cup and thus broken his own cup curse. But it's really difficult to stay at a club if you lose the respect and trust from the players, also the Italian himself looks disinterested and on several occasions, his voice sounded like a man waiting for the sack.
When the board do the evaluation of our season right now, they might be thinking that this current crop of players might not be good enough to win the title but are definitely capable of finishing in the top four, which Antonio Conte has failed to achieve. It looks like it's just matter of when rather than if regarding Antonio's departure from the bridge and we will be forever grateful for the success he brought to the club but I won't be hurt nor I won't shed a tear as I told in the beginning that keeping managers close to the heart is not my thing anymore and I will be 100% behind the next man in charge at the Bridge