There’s a brief, concise and challenging fact in the Premier league era that has lasted a decade: ‘No team has successfully defended the title since Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United in 2007/2008 season. This is quite shocking considering the fact that only three clubs – Manchester United(5 wins), Chelsea(3wins), Manchester City(2), and Leicester City(1) have won in this 10 year period. It is even a bitter pill to swallow with the fact that only two teams – Manchester United (on 4 occasions) and Chelsea (on a single occasion) successfully defended their title from the inception of the FA Premier league in 1992 – 2007/08 season. This is strange considering the quality of the teams in the league. While critics will make a case for this being the reason the Premier league is the best in the world, the obvious fact is that the reigning champions often fail to rise to the challenge of a title defence. The dominance of yesteryear is history as defending champions are dethroned annually.
To lay the possibilities of a failed title defence to bare, we could take a look at the issues of former champions. Issues of lack of mental fortitude to deal with the pressure of being defending champions, inadequate preparation, dressing room unrest, lack of squad depth and quality and complacency. These are issues Chelsea and Conte must address heading into next season as we seek to defend our title.
Conte must have already had in mind that the last two managers – Jose Mourinho (Chelsea, 2015/16) and Claudio Ranieri (Leicester City, 2016/2017) who both failed to defend the title lost their job when the performances and results of their teams deteriorated. During last season, the Portuguese tactician voiced his concern on this issue with this statement: “I think Antonio Conte has to think about whether he wants to be champion this year.”
Will Conte be able to defend the title? Chelsea must avoid a repeat of our disastrous title defence in 2015/16 season. Issues of lack of transfer activity, complacency, dressing room unrest and inadequate preparation should be resolved to avoid a deja vu. We must pull the trigger and prove to our doubters and critics that our title triumph of last season was no fluke. The blazing inferno must be re-fired. It’s over to you, Antonio Conte.
Let’s hope for the best. Cheers!