BT Sport is where the best in domestic and European football go head to head, but reigning Premier League champions Chelsea could be in for a tough season.
Manager Antonio Conte has appeared unhappy throughout pre-season and despite signing a new deal, the improved terms and lack of an extension cause concern for Blues fans.
That concern is also voiced by BT Sport presenter Jake Humphrey, who thinks the Italian might not even last the season.
Speaking exclusively to The Chelsea Chronicle, Humphrey said:
“When you look at Conte, the way he’s moving and talking, I don’t know whether he’ll last the season.
“I think it tells you a lot when a manager signs a new deal but it’s only improved terms, not an extended contract. That smells to me like a contract to make someone happy.
“I would love to see Conte have a long reign at Chelsea because he’s come in, set up the system and altered things to be successful.
“The issue he has is a lack of bodies and just as important, a lack of a plan B.
“He has to have some other way to play because teams are now going to get wise to the Chelsea three at the back system they employed so well last season, using the wing-backs, retaining possession. He has to have another way to operate.
“As things stand at the moment, I don’t see him lasting till the end of the season based on the noises coming out the club.”
A lack of signings has been the reported reason for Conte’s unhappiness but, Humphrey believes it’s those going out that have caused the issue.
“The issue for Chelsea is not the lack of signings it’s the lack of players.
“They simply haven’t got enough. When you look at their squad on paper and you take away injuries and youngsters, they’ve got a squad of 14 or 15 world-class players.”
The upheaval at Stamford Bridge has not been helped the issue surrounding Diego Costa and his potential departure.
While Humphrey is disappointed to see him go, he is hopefully that Alvaro Morata – signed for £58 million from Real Madrid – can replace him, saying:
“I hope Morata can replace Costa because I really like him as a footballer and a bloke.
“He’s coming in during a World Cup year and there’s never been a more important time in his career.
“You look at the goals he’s scored and the impact he had at Real Madrid. He played 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there. He wasn’t trusted in the big games, he was on the bench for the Champions League final and it’s almost the story of his career really.
“I’d love to see him at the age he’s at, just how good he is when a manager puts his arm around him and says ‘you’re my starting striker, my main man.’ I know he didn’t start the Community Shield but I think he’ll start that first game of the season.”
One player who is already out the door is Nemanja Matic.
The Serbian midfielder departed for Manchester United, and it’s a move that has baffled Humphrey, along with that of youngster Dominic Solanke and Nathaniel Chalobah to Liverpool and Watford, respectively.
“Nemanja Matic is the weirdest move of the whole transfer window.
“It’s £40 million which is not ridiculous in modern terms, you’ve strengthened a rival and weakened yourself with no guarantee at all that Tiemoue Bakayoko will be a Premier League player.
“There’s even noises that Bakayoko’s injury is longer than a few weeks which leaves them vulnerable.
“Chelsea fans have tried to put brave face on over Matic’s departure, but you can’t tell me a player who played over 30 games in a title winning season won’t be missed.
“I just don’t know what their plan is when they are letting Dominic Solanke go to Liverpool, selling Chalobah to Watford. I think they are in a muddle.”
Despite all of this, Humphrey predicts a third place finish for Antonio Conte’s men.
“I don’t see them having a season like they did under Jose Mourinho a couple of years ago after winning the title.
“At the moment, I see Chelsea finishing third behind Manchester City and Manchester United because they haven’t strengthened to the necessary level.”