Roman Calls Antonio`s Bluff
As the fallout continues from last night`s dismal Chelsea performance against Watford, an evening of bewilderment and confusion turned into a day of anger and frustration as the game was dissected by the great and good on social media.
Whilst the blame can be pointed in multiple directions, the bottom line is, once again the club I`ve supported for many, many years have let me down. I was going to say embarrassed, but that`s maybe, too emotive.
Historically, when this kind of player versus manager situation has occurred at the club, about once every 18 months, the manager is always the fall guy. According to the respected Chelsea journalist Matt Law of The Telegraph, Roman Abramovich is about to buck that depressing trend.
The article goes on to say that whilst Antonio Conte may leave the club at some point in the near future, Abramovich doesn`t want him to fall victim of player power. Law reckons that the players have no direct contact with the Russian and he doesn`t court their views.
He goes on to say that Chelsea are adamant that no contact has been made between themselves and a possible replacement. With Conte looking like a different man to the one all Chelsea fans grew to love last season, could this just be Abramovich giving the Italian exactly what he doesn`t want.
From what can be observed, and that`s really all we, as fans, can go on. Conte does not look happy. In his interviews he doesn`t appear or sound happy. From that, the assumption must be he`s not happy. Is it simply, as was implied earlier in the season, that he wants to return to Italy or is he frustrated by having to work with both hands tied behind his back.
Abramovich cannot be happy with the way Conte has behaved during some of his recent interviews. Of course, we don`t know because he plays his cards from under the table. Conte has recently said he`d like to see out his contract. Maybe the Russian has just 'called him`.
The players on the last two games showing, and to a lesser degree the whole of this year, have not looked, no better word, happy. At times we`ve seen glimpses of form and they`re still in the FA Cup, Champions League and fourth in the EPL, so we`re some way short of Mourinho`s 'palpable discord`, but something is not right.
In some ways all three factions are culpable to the current situation us fans are left in. Abramovich is responsible for not getting the players that Conte wanted. Back in the summer Conte knew the squad would need strengthening to challenge on four fronts. At best he got like for like positional changes, at worst his squad was weakened considerably.
Conte for his part has overused some players and underused others. Injuries and suspensions have created selection issues not of his making. His relentless use of Tiemoue Bakayoko blew up in his face yesterday.
As for the players, fans want to see application and effort. That has been lacking in some of them recently. If that`s because they`re tired, then that comes back to the squad and the lack of new blood delivered in the summer. The fact that Conte has given the players three days off following the Watford defeat add to that belief.
Football is like no other business. It`s unique and difficult to compare to situations us mere mortals can comprehend. But, if you had an orchestra and you wanted it to be the best orchestra in the world. You`d audition musicians until you had found the best in all sections.
That done, would you then take their high quality, well toned instruments off them to be replaced with cheap, inferior instruments? You might, but would they still be the best orchestra in the world….probably not. Therein lies the problem and it`s difficult to see how that changes.