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Three reasons why: Chelsea should stick by Antonio Conte

Dean Carr 7 Feb 2018
  • Antonio Conte's future looks in serious doubt at Stamford Bridge
  • The reigning champions are 19 points adrift of leaders Manchester City
Things haven't gone to plan for Antonio Conte and Chelsea this season

Damaging defeats against Watford and Bournemouth have resulted in Antonio Conte’s job becoming the latest to come under severe scrutiny at Chelsea, following a long line of managers who have been given the boot by Roman Abramovich.

The Russian’s trigger-happy reputation comes with good reason, appointing 11 different bosses at Stamford Bridge since 2003 in what has proved to be a successful revolving door policy at the club. Having no extension to his initial three-year deal on an improved contract in the summer told its own story; Conte was never in it for the long-haul, exemplified further by refusing to move his family to London with him, as they remain in their native Italy.

Though sacking Conte seems the obvious - and inevitable - step to be taken, here’s three reasons why the Italian deserves to keep his job at the club.

1. The players have done this all before

Following a runaway title victory in 2015, Jose Mourinho was gone before Christmas after losing 9 of their opening 16 Premier League games that season, culminating in defeat at champions-to-be Leicester City. It’s accepted the players, whom were given an extended break by Mourinho during pre-season, downed tools after falling out of love with the Special One, failing to produce anything like the quality of the season prior. A significant core of that squad remain, such as Thibaut Courtois, Gary Cahill, Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard, which begs the question as to whether this is a player or managerial issue at Chelsea, with this not being the first occasion where player power at the club has been a root of issue.

2. Conte didn’t get his top targets in the summer

Conte’s handling of the Diego Costa situation - whereby he informed the Spaniard by text that he was no longer in his plans - may not have been the most professional manner to deal with such a problem, but the club’s recruitment policy undoubtedly left them short of the requisite quality needed for a title defence. Romelu Lukaku was Conte’s top target to replace Costa, but lost out to Manchester United, while Tiemoue Bakayoko has been a woeful replacement for Nemanja Matic. Giorgio Chiellini and Alex Sandro were targeted, but instead Conte was left with Antonio Rudiger and now Emerson Palmieri as competition for Marcos Alonso. Danny Drinkwater and Ross Barkley have never looked like Conte signings, more homegrown quota acquisitions.

3. Lack of alternatives

Through all of the turmoil and apparent meltdown taking place at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea remain only six points behind Manchester United in the table and a point above Tottenham, highlighting the standards the club ultimately holds itself to. Conte expects similarly glistening results from his teams and Chelsea must also ask themselves; who else can we get? Luis Enrique is touted as the man to succeed Conte in the summer, but the Spaniard’s greatest success occured when working with Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar as his front three. Carlo Ancelotti is available, but he may well have burnt his bridges with the club following his sacking just a season after winning the double, while up-and-coming managers like Mauricio Pochettino may well steer clear of the Blues for a more long-term project.

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Three reasons why: Chelsea should stick by Antonio Conte

Though sacking Antonio Conte seems the obvious - and inevitable - step to be taken, here’s three reasons why the Italian deserves to keep his job at the club.

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