Barely two weeks to the start of the new season, Chelsea manager Antonio Conte came out to say that he had to be careful to avoid a ‘Mourinho season’ in reference to the Portuguese tactician’s dismal third season in his second stint as Chelsea boss. Well, the season kicked off for the champions last Saturday and they started worse than the fabled ‘Mourinho season’ losing 2-3 at home to a Burnley team that only managed a single away win last season, and finished the game with nine men. This start was unprecedented and has already put the proverbial cat among the pigeons at Stamford Bridge.
There’s always a wager at the start of the season to see who will be the first boss to lose his job in the Premier League and right now Antonio Conte seems to be in one of the pole positions to get that ‘honour’. If results do not improve quickly, then we will definitely see him part ways with the pensioners and below are some of the reasons why that might happen.
Chelsea has not defended the Premier League title since Mourinho achieved it in 2005; in fact, it’s been eight years since a side staged a successful defence of the Premier League title. Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United was the last team to do so in 2008/09 and if you go back a bit further, since 2006-07, the Scot is one of only two managers – along with Manchester City’s Manuel Pellegrini, to win the title and still be in his job by the end of the following season. Carlo Ancelotti, Roberto Mancini, Jose Mourinho and Claudio Ranieri all departed 12 months after winning the Premier League. That’s over 65% of all the title-winning managers before Conte, which should really worry the Italian.
In October last year, the Italian admitted the stress of managing Chelsea was not good for his health. He said that management is an extremely stressful profession and we have seen how passionate the Italian can be during games. He made this statement when his team had just won three games on the bounce and were a point off the top of the table. We can only imagine the toll the present situation will be taking on him and his health and shouldn’t be surprised if the Italian decides to walk away from the job.
There’s always the huge shadow of Roman Abramovich behind every manager at Stamford Bridge since the Russian took over and his influence and unpredictability are always things that worry and sort of affect the managers. He doesn’t let the managers have total control of the team, especially in terms of transfers and this has caused a lot of issues with them in the past. There’s also the issue of egos between the Russian and his managers about who is really in control and that makes them clash often. The Russian can sometimes have very high expectations from his managers and if not met, he shows them the door. Carlo Ancelotti is a fine example of this.
Antonio Conte has already complained of not being aware of certain decisions made by the club, especially in the area of transfers. He hasn’t gotten most of the signings he requested for, while Matic was sold without his consent according to him and this will really disrupt the plans he has for defending the title this season. This scenario makes it seem like there is a budding war between the management and the manager just simmering and it might explode pretty soon if results don’t start going Chelsea’s way soon. The results of a less than satisfactory summer for the Italian might just be a reason why he might walk away from the job sooner rather than later.
Setting record negatives
Chelsea’s loss to Burnley last weekend made them the only other reigning Premier League champions to lose the opening game of the following campaign, the other team was Leicester last season and we all remember all too well what happened to their manager. They are also the first title holders to concede three goals in the opening game of the next season, and the first side to pick up two red cards on day one. All these are not very good signs for the manager and the sooner he starts turning all these negatives to positives, the better for him.
Diego Costa was a major factor in the capturing of the title for Chelsea last season, however, the one-time favourite son of the team is now being treated like a pariah. Conte sent him a text message during the summer to tell him that he isn’t part of his plans for this season and the Spaniard has publicly come out to say that he wants to leave the London club. The problem here is that it seems that Roman Abrahamovic is not happy with that development and wants to keep Costa, which will definitely irk Conte. Costa is currently out of the Chelsea squad and any attempt by the management to try and force him or reinstate him into the squad to the chagrin of the Italian might just be the quickest way for Conte to walk.
Stop talking, Conte
Antonio Conte likes to talk and this might just be a problem for him especially if his results do not meet up with the expectations of the management. He is adored by Chelsea fans, with “Antonio, Antonio” regularly ringing around the stadium, but the love of the fans has never helped keep a manager in the job in Abramovich’s era. At a club with a fearsome reputation for hiring and firing managers, he just needs to keep his mouth shut and concentrate on delivering results on the pitch or he might have to start talking elsewhere.