I think that by now, the common opinion amongst a large percentage of Chelsea fans would be to see current manager, Antonio Conte leave the club for another man to take over. However, taking sentiments aside, and putting the events that led up to our finish this season into perspective, one can’t help but wonder if Conte is truly to blame for our ‘failures’.
I understand that the manager ideally should take the fall for whatever wrongs go on in his team, after all, he’s the man in charge, but then again, has this been the case with Chelsea? I think that as much as that is true to an extent, I also believe that if players can share in the glory, they also must share in the blame when things go wrong. Chelsea had a stuttering season, and it wasn’t all down to the coach only. The coach passes instructions and it is the responsibility of players to implement them. I am not sure any Chelsea player can say much changed in the way Conte handled things in his debut season in England, so how then can he be solely held responsible for everything that happened at the club?
Early this year, Hazard admitted during an interview that himself and his colleagues hadn’t exactly been at their best. I do not think he would make that kind of statement if he didn’t see that there was a visible lethargy in the way our players performed this term. Some of us just like to pretend to not see these things because the coach is the only one worth frying.
Apart from the players, the board has been a problem from the start of the just-ended campaign. Conte cried about it over and over again, but he was ignored. The players the man originally wanted to sign wasn’t given him; instead, he was given the likes of Davide Zappacosta, Danny Drinkwater and Olivier Giroud, and yet expected to successfully defend the title. Take a look at the kind of players our rivals, Manchester City, and United went for – top players from their respective clubs. You definitely can’t compare them with our own signings. So when people say “Conte brought us here”, I just laugh at them because the man only worked with the available resources.
But regardless of all of the underlying issues and turmoil, he has managed to secure a trophy this season – the FA Cup. Ordinarily, a coach who gets a trophy of that level doesn’t get the boot, but then again, this is Chelsea. The mind would always go back to the days of Carlo Ancelotti, and the fate he suffered despite ending the second season in second place in the league. Chelsea is a big club, and places more value on the Champions League and the EPL than other domestic title, so there yet may not be a Conte next season – even the man has resigned to his fate, and seems ready to accept whatever the board’s decision turns out to be.
But like I mentioned above, as much as I wish we’d replace him with a better manager, I don’t think he has to go still because the events that led up to our finish in the just ended campaign clearly gave him an excuse to fail.
Let this season serve as a lesson to our board, and the powers that be at Chelsea. They need to do better than they did last season. They need to support the coach more, and allow him choose what players he needs. Stop imposing players on the coach, and perhaps, there wouldn’t be a repeat of the last season.
That is my take on the Conte conundrum; you too can have your say, and tell us which part of the divide you belong. Should Conte stay or leave Chelsea?