Danny Murphy believes Antonio Conte’s mistakes this season has cost Chelsea a place in the top four.
According to Murphy, Chelsea would be further up the Premier League table this season if Conte has made better team selections.
Murphy believes Conte is wrong to play Andreas Christensen ahead of David Luiz. He also claims Conte was wrong to leave out Willian and Pedro from the team at different times this season.
“Antonio Conte claims he has extracted the maximum possible from this Chelsea squad, but I disagree. With better team selection and recruitment decisions, his team would be further up the table,” Murphy told Evening Standard.
“I get the impression that this season, Conte has been more interested in showing he is in control than he has been in picking the best team. Conte was not happy with transfers last summer and he has a point, but he also has to look in the mirror. For a start, did he really need to get rid of John Terry?
“Maybe Terry’s playing days at the highest level were coming to an end, but I would still have kept him around the club. Also, I am convinced David Luiz is a better player than Andreas Christensen — and I don’t understand why the Dane plays ahead of him. Christensen lacks Luiz’s experience, he is not as quick and he makes too many mistakes.
“There have been other perplexing decisions, too. Why marginalise Pedro and Willian at different times of the season when both are such impressive attacking players? Ludicrous.
“Why refuse to play Danny Drinkwater alongside N’Golo Kante when they were the central midfield partnership who helped Leicester win the Premier League title two years ago? When he won the title last season with 3-4-3, why go with 3-5-2 for much of this season?
“If we accept that Conte will almost certainly leave Chelsea in the summer, I don’t believe the new coach will have to overhaul the squad if Chelsea can keep their best players. He might want two or three in to improve the starting XI — perhaps a couple in defence and one in midfield — but this is still a very strong squad.
“They have more than enough to hurt West Ham, even if they don’t play at their best, but I was very impressed by David Moyes’s team against Southampton last weekend. Moyes and his staff deserve great credit for their work the previous week. They ensured the team were in perfect mental and physical condition – and that is football management in a nutshell.
“In adversity, people sometimes show their true colours. West Ham have gone under a few times at home this season but against Southampton they were determined not to let that happen. Marko Arnautovic showed fantastic pace and power in a central role and when he plays like that, he can cause problems for anyone.
“West Ham have a crucial fixture at home to Stoke next up. At Chelsea, they should try to relax and enjoy it.”