By D’zyre Derekford Mugumisa (dzyre256)
Chelsea manager, Antonio Conte, has cut a figure we are not so used to seeing on the touchlines these past couple of weeks; a dejected one – deflated.
The Italian, who only last year delivered the English Premier League in some style a season after they had finished 10th as defending champions the season prior, now has to go about his job with speculation rife on when he will be sacked, complete with predictions on who will be taking his job.
The set up at Chelsea since the sacking of Jose Mourinho in December 2015 is one that worries many. From where I stand, it looks like one that brings in players the hierarchy feels their club needs, and then brings in a coach that they ask to work something out.
I mean, what with bringing in a player such as Michy Batshuayi for over 30m, who was flying in Ligue 1 for Marseille at the time by the way, and finding that the coach doesn’t fancy him! Please note that they both came in at about the same time.
Conte’s pressers are now incomplete if he does not point fingers at the club’s transfer policy & nature of players they bring in or get linked with (I mean, I too would be mad if I were Conte getting linked with Peter Crouch, LOL). The most shocking incident for me was the day Chelsea sealed the capture of left-wing-back, Emerson Palmieri, from Roma; Conte went all out to state he doesn’t know much about the player, stating that the only thing he knew was that Emerson had done well for Roma before the long-term injury and that Conte hadn’t exactly watched him since the return, seeing as the player also didn’t play the games against Chelsea in the Champions League this year! Wow.
In a world where your direct competition is Pep Guardiola & Jose Mourinho who are pointing at who they need and their clubs paying whatever it takes to get them, this is an unfortunate situation to find yourself in as Conte. I would imagine that taking on the job, Conte expected he would be signing Chiellini where they got him Rudiger, Graziano Pellè where they got him Batshuayi, Vidal where they got him Drinkwater, and Alex Sandro where they got him Palmieri… what miles apart as far as ambition is concerned!
Which prompts me to look on the other side of the coin; why would a club that once broke the bank to buy Andriy Shevchenko or Fernando Torres, went all the way to get Obi Mikel, assembled a midfield of legends of the game with Ballack, Deco, Lampard & Essien, not mentioning outbidding everyone for Eden Hazard, be having this said of them?
Roman Abramovic, the Chelsea owner, let managers sign players earlier until Mourinho’s second coming… managers bought players and many times you heard new signings say stuff like, “Ancelotti called me & the decision was easy to make”, “Scolari blah blah blah”… As we now know, many times the results didn’t exactly come the way the Russian oligarch expected them & the boot it was.
Now, every manager is always going to want their own players so when results failed the new managers who’d taken over from the sacked ones, “not my players” would become the constant excuse, leaving this idea of not hiring a Club Manager but a Head Coach to come in and train the club’s players the way to go, which I feel was helped with the successful interim Guus Hiddink stints.
Conte seemed to do so well with it last year, converting a right midfielder(Victor Moses) they acquired so many years ago from Wigan and had been loaned out by each & every “failed manager” they had had into one of the best right-wing-backs in the league, figuring out a system that just worked wonders & revolutionalized the English Premier League, winning a record-equaling number of consistent games, winning the league…this earned him a fatter contract, interestingly without extending its length! I guess Abramovic is getting wiser with this football business; shorter contracts, less compensation when he does what you expect him to do… SACK!
Unfortunately for the 48-year-old Italian, though, the second season was one where he now had a summer transfer window to deal with, to like you’d expect, bring in his “own players”! Get rid of the “disrespectful” Costa was the itching one & fresh from all this success, a text message Conte probably regrets was dished out, reportedly much to the dismay of the axe-swingers at Chelsea. Next would be the denied targets, the sale of his star midfield man, Nemanja Matic, to rivals Manchester United, among so many other things.
Shock results when the league returned with that home loss to Burnley followed, not forgetting the granting of Crystal Palace their first goals & points of the season; Palace had lost all seven of their season’s games – including three under their then new boss, Roy Hodgson – and had failed to score! Conte has now watched his side manage only two wins in ten games since January, losing the last two games 1-7 to Bournemouth & Watford!
It is quite relieving to hear that the changes at Stamford Bridge are inclusive of Abramovic no longer allowing player “dissatisfaction” to play a role in the sacking of managers at the club, if The Telegraph’s Matt Law is to be believed, with club legends such as John Terry, Frank Lampard, Didier Drogba and Petr Cech all gone, along with Branislav Ivanovic.
That Abramovic will now instead work it all out directly with the manager & his right-hand woman, director Marina Granovskaia, is a step in the right direction. I hope “working it out” involves long-term plans, more so those that include managers having a much bigger say on who to sign so they can fairly be held accountable.
D’zyre is the Host of “Game On: Evening Edition,” Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday & Friday at 7pm & “Game On Xtra,” Saturdays at 11:30am. He is also Urban TV’s Promotions Manager.