Written by @samjsneddon & @simplydave_
Welcome to the first article in our brand new series: The Dave and Sam Show. We'll be covering some of the latest and greatest football news, rumours and gossip, all here on Socabol. Today, we are discussing Chelsea FC head coach, Antonio Conte.
Conte's future at Chelsea has been in doubt recently, as the Italian gaffer has received criticism over some of the results his team have produced and the drop in league standing since last year's incredible league title win. Rumours were also circulating about the opening of an Italian National Team manager position, with the board allegedly eyeing him up as their number one target.
On this part of the article, we'll be giving OUR opinions.
Antonio Conte’s reign at Chelsea has been interesting, to say the least. After winning the league relatively easily last season, he has struggled to replicate the same results this season.
There have been a few factors that have contributed to the decline in results and performance. The first being the sale of Diego Costa. Costa has integral to everything Chelsea did well, especially in the first half of the season. After the switch to 343. His tireless running and harassing of defenders allowed Chelsea to operate higher up the pitch, as well as allowing Hazard to be more involved higher up the pitch.
Secondly, recruitment over the summer was poor. Chelsea loaned out young players like Baker, Aina and Loftus-Cheek - as well as selling Chalobah, who was a big part of the title-winning season. Because of this, players like Bakayoko and Drinkwater were bought for a total of £80 million. None of them being significant upgrades on Chalobah or Loftus-Cheek.
Moreover, replacing an experienced striker with Morata, in hindsight, may have been a mistake. The signing of Morata in isolation isn’t bad. His insistence on playing him, even when in terrible form was. Morata has had problems with his mentality all his career.
When things aren’t going well for him, he tends to hide. Conte’s reluctance to play Batshuayi looks all the more strange considering he is the best finisher at the club and this is evident through the numbers he is putting up at Dortmund.
My last gripe with Conte is his apparent inability to manage games effectively. This again in hindsight was evident last season. He rarely makes substitutions before the 70th minute. When he does, it is either defensive or pure stupidity. Take the second leg vs Barcelona. The first mistake was playing Giroud instead of Morata when pace was needed in transition. His second mistake was not making a single tactical change until Chelsea were already 3-0 down. This was the poorest Barcelona team Chelsea had faced in over 15 years and he made them look like Pep’s Barca of 10/11.
With all this being said, I don’t believe Conte is a bad manager. In fact, I still think he’s an elite manager and a very good coach. However, he needs to move on for two reasons. Number one, his pragmatic nature stifles players like Hazard and Morata. In a free-flowing attacking system, both would easily hit 20+ goals in all comps.
With Conte, I’m not sure either can. Number two, Conte is a short-term solution to a long-term problem. Chelsea has the best academy in England and among the best in Europe. Conte will not bring these players through. He prefers experienced players with tactical discipline. That isn’t conducive to Chelsea becoming the super club that Abramovic wants them to become.
So, what’s the solution? Chelsea needs a young vibrant coach that promotes youth and plays attacking football. To use a phrase that Jose Mourinho recently coined, Chelsea’s ‘football heritage’ is that of sacking managers to continue the winning cycle. That needs to change. A project similar to what Pep is doing at City needs to begin.
The infrastructure is there. The money is there. Someone just needs to execute. Pochettino would be the ideal manager to take the job, but Levy would never let that happen. Thomas Tuchel is another avenue that should be explored. He promotes young players, plays good football and has a pressing system similar to Klopp’s that we see works in the Premier League. He would be my ideal candidate to take over from Conte.
It's difficult for me to express my opinion on Conte, as I do not support Chelsea. Yet, I am an avid football fan and watch the occasional Premier League game when the opportunity arises. This season, I've not been entirely impressed with Chelsea.
Chelsea has been victims of some embarrassing losses, most of which, away games. These include a 0-1 loss to West Ham, a 0-3 Bournemouth defeat and a shocking 1-4 thumping from Watford.
I think Conte deserves to stay until the end of the season at least before the Chelsea board make any decisions. Now it's all down to how he performs until then.
The Fan Zone:
In this section of our article, we'll be looking at the opinions of the fans. Today, we've chosen two Chelsea fans.
“Personally I don’t think Conte should be sacked; I don’t think he got exactly what he asked for in the summer and it has therefore affected Chelsea this season. I also believe he should become the manager instead of head coach, so he makes the transfer decisions.” (via @chelsea_fans_p4ge on Instagram)
'The Chelsea Edition' had a different say.
“I just feel that he is starting to lose his love for the club each week as his relationship with the board is deteriorating. I think he has lost his charisma on the touchline which defined him but I think it will all be back if we get the win tomorrow [referring to Chelsea's second leg match against Barcelona, which ended 4-0 to the latter]” (via @chelsea.edition on Instagram)
Opinions are very spread on a matter like this, and it's understandable why many Chelsea fans wouldn't be happy with the Conte regime. Only time will tell if he'll actually keep the job.
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