The current mood around Stamford Bridge shouldn’t be too unfamiliar for Chelsea supporters because it is one they have witnessed before. Win the Premier League title and implode the following season.
During this campaign, there have been many factors behind Chelsea’s slump in form from European football, lack of big-name transfers, poor performances from key players and a manager who just doesn’t want to be there.
The latter has been quite obvious for some time and with a number of bad results in recent weeks, Antonio Conte isn’t helping his own cause.
Whatever happens at Chelsea there is always a fire around the corner which, more than likely, results in the manager getting the chop. Conte is walking on that tightrope with his Jerry Can in hand pouring away at the flames that are rising over the Bridge.
Last season, Conte was dancing up and down the touchline like an uncontrollable child and now he has the body language of someone who has been forced to wear the shirt of their biggest rivals.
The Italian’s beef with those wearing the suits in the Chelsea boardroom is the biggest reason behind his change in mood, but it has impacted the club’s results on the pitch.
Chelsea have gone from Premier League title winners to a team that will now, more than likely, be playing Europa League football next term. The manner in which this has happened has not pleased the Chelsea faithful, who are now beginning to turn on their manager.
For a large part of the season, Conte stuck with Tiemoue Bakayoko in the middle of the park despite the youngster’s struggles on the pitch. Added with that, he continues to select under-performing senior players such as Cesc Fabregas, Gary Cahill, Victor Moses and Pedro. Meanwhile, the likes of Danny Drinkwater watch on, alongside the club’s long list of highly-rated youngsters.
Not forgetting that he is the first manager to have lost to Tottenham at Stamford Bridge since 1990, and in doing so, all but ended the club’s hopes of finishing in the top four. Supporters have also questioned Conte’s late substitutions and his failure to change a system that clearly isn’t working.
When you mix all of that together then it doesn’t bode well for Conte, who could be harming the positive reputation he has built at the club.
One glimmer of hope does remain for the out-spoken manager and that is winning the FA Cup. Chelsea play relegation-threatened Southampton in the semi-final, with the winner playing either Spurs or Manchester United. Winning the FA Cup won’t heal all the problems, but it will allow Conte to leave Chelsea with a parting gift in the summer.