Antonio Conte & Chelsea FC: The Coming End!
When he took charge of the club in 2016, after a dismaying season that saw José Mourinho, Mourinho the Special One, and by far the best manager of the club’s history, sacked from his (erstwhile?) favorite club, Antonio Conte was to revitalize the spirit of the Blues at Stamford Bridge and across England; he was, that is, to energize the seemingly exhausted, fatigued, and drained Chelsea’s squad.
He succeeded, but only for a season.
It is often said that the most difficult thing in the world is for a quality player to move to a different club and successfully play in a different environment and meet the highly anticipated expectations: Radamel Falcao, amongst numerous others, would unhesitatingly agree! Yet, from my standpoint, however, the most challenging, if not onerous, task in the footballistic world is, for managers in the Premier League, to win the title and maintain, not the trophy, but their jobs: their success is also their failure…
But let's go back to Conte, as it’s of him we are talking here. And for that reason, I’ll not mince my words; I must, therefore, put it bluntly: Conte’s ultimate failure this season is of own making. I repeat: when (for it is now just a matter of time) Antonio Conte is sacked, after a seemingly remarkable run last season, he will have no one to blame but himself. Even if the odd sees him survive the worse in the coming days, he must blame himself for his fading reputation, for his accumulating failures to deliver, and for his players’ turning against him.
From his unprofessional message to Diego Costa to his deep mistrust of players like Nemanja Matić, Michy Batshuayi and the latest axing of the Brazilian professional, David Luiz, any informed observer would have known that it would ultimately backfire.
As a Chelsea fan, I myself find it extremely difficult to entirely dismiss people who like to attribute his success, last season, to circumstantial “luck”. For one, it was largely the transitional squad that won the title. Only this season did he take the chance to stamp his brand on the Chelsea’s squad, and the results are too glaring to warrant further statement: Conte, the passionate, the affectionate, and the gaily celebrating Conte, has metamorphosed into a bottomless morose, a deep melancholy, and a gloomily sullen and mournful manager on the touchline, as though there no longer is anything to celebrate about in this unloving and often uncaring world, as though the manager himself is tired out of winning, and as though victory, too, has become meaningless, all the sudden.
The world is falling apart around Antonio Conte; and, along with him, the club is certainly stumbling, as Chelsea find themselves, slowly but surely, sliding down the table with a growing chance of missing the Champions League next season.
Maintaining the title is a long-lost dream; the league’s various cups are all unattained dreams, for they have all slipped away; and playing Barcelona in the coming days will not even make things any easier to hope for a “next” round in the European competition.
Should I, therefore, sympathize with Conte? Certainly not, for he should have learned from Chelsea’s history (many managers, before him, have attempted, but have all failed!), and those of other clubs, to know that no manager has ever saved his job by declaring an unnecessary war against his players. Indeed, nothing is worse for a managerial career than the manager losing the confidence of his players. Were it not of his own making, one could sympathize with him; but Conte is exactly reaping what he sowed with only two wins in ten games. How much time does he need to set things right?
Better sooner than later!