When all is said and done, this 2015-18 Chelsea vintage will go down as a mixed bag. Magnificent at times to the point of bordering on the unstoppable, as shown on two distinct occasions under Jose Mourinho and last year, Antonio Conte’s first season, they’ve been equally as treacherous.
Barely 6 months after lifting aloft the Premier League title in May 2015, the Chelsea squad started the season appearing more relegation contenders than reigning champions, which culminated in the (second) sacking of Jose Mourinho, who alluded to ‘betryal’ amongst his men,
Barely a year later, Chelsea were high-flying under Antonio Conte, a serial winner with Juventus. They stomped to victory in the 2016/17 season, but failure to secure key signings in the summer and the dampening of the Italian’s mood has contributed to a rather forgetful season.
It’s not quite reached 2015 levels of treachery, but this Chelsea side aren’t a million miles away from it. The way they have approached certain fixtures in recent times would convince all but the ardent Blues fan that they are intent on getting Conte the chop.
Yesterday, we seemed to have reached the point of no return for the manager. Either way – whether it’s his players not putting in the effort or his tactics failing to work as intended – the Italian has shown that he doesn’t have it in him to stir this Chelsea team to compete against the elite sides. Last week, against Manchester United, they looked good for 35 minutes before folding in the second half and losing convincingly. Yesterday, they were second best since the first whistle and resembled a team struggling at the foot of the table rather than one competing for Champions League football.
A win for United tonight against Crystal Palace and it’d be hard to see Chelsea securing a top-4 finish this season. Surely, if that’s the case, Conte will either walk or be fired. He won’t find it difficult to find another top job – the man has proved he can win titles in two different countries, playing exciting, free flowing yet defensively sound football. The Chelsea players, on the other hand, may find it difficult to find new clubs considering the reputation some of them have developed in recent seasons. I’m looking at you, Cesc Fabregas. Has a player even fallen off a cliff as quickly as our Cesc? A boy wonder at Arsenal, a flop at his boyhood club and now a has-been at Chelsea. His walking yesterday instead of pressing David Silva became an internet meme in seconds.