Did we just witness a watershed Conte victory?
I don't believe in coincidences.
So what explains so many huge things happening at SW6 at the same time?
First, Luiz is benched - against the advice of the world and his wife and before the most important game of the season so far.
Next, Emenalo leaves.
Next, Conte is assured of bids for Sandro, Berkely and another top striker in January.
Finally, on the subject of the dressing room, Conte slams shut the door with the statement that he will allow nobody to influence how he manages the team.
This final statement of self-confidence is particularly telling, coming as it does as presumably the only person in a direct position to fiddle with team management, Michael Emenalo (ME), exits.
You can take Conte`s words as a random, coincidental statement; or you can take it for what it clearly says:
"All you players with axes to grind or dispositions too fragile for serious training no longer have 'Auntie Emenalo` to run to and complain to behind my back. Shape up or ship out!"
Just think how bizarre it is that a modern Premier league manager needs to say such a thing - do the Man United or City or Spurs or Liverpool managers need to make it clear that they won't allow their management to be interfered with? No they don`t.
Only at Chelsea.
Well, now The Don is making it clear that those days are over.
Coincidence? My ***!
The fact that major transfers we know Conte desperately wanted in the summer will now be pursued is also no coincidence.
Clearly ME was an obstacle blocking Conte`s plans. Why? Who knows? Perhaps ME was incentivized the less CFC spent on transfers? Perhaps there was a power struggle going on as to who actually ran and composed the squad? If so, all that is over.
Chelsea fans have been conditioned to believe in the American system, where the coach coaches whatever a general manager hands him.
Our managers have not been conditioned to accept that - and few great ones do or ever will: Diego Simeone wouldn't even take a meeting with the Emenalo set-up.
Having given it the 72-hour test, my belief now (together with some 80% of VC readership) is that ME`s removal is a major blessing for the manager.
We should now be able to look forward to pure footballing matters.
And for talk of The Don`s imminent departure to subside.
If not, we know that either Conte`s most powerful political enemies remain; or that The Don has somehow mysteriously and unexpectedly transmogrified into the former one - not something that any true Blue will ever buy.