Source: Chelsea FC via Twitter
Chelsea have once again wilted in defence of their Premier League crown. Antonio Conte’s men stormed to the top-flight title last season, leaving their rivals in their wake. However, the Blues have failed to put up resistance this term and are now likely to miss out on the Champions League for the second time in three years. A trend has developed with the club where a new manager has burst on to the scene before a period of malaise sets in, resulting in underwhelming performances.
It has been the case since Jose Mourinho’s arrival at Stamford Bridge in 2004. He enjoyed immediate success, winning back-to-back crowns before finishing second behind Manchester United. However, in his fourth term, he left early in the campaign, although Avram Grant took the team to the Champions League final where they were beaten by United. It seems as though every time a signature appointment has been made, the pattern has been identical. Carlo Ancelotti was heralded on his arrival in 2009 and his team edged their way to the Premier League crown in the 2009/10 campaign.
However, the Italian was put out to pasture in 2011, despite finishing second in his second term. Roberto Di Matteo took over first-team matters, following the departure of Andre Villas-Boas, and guided Chelsea to their first Champions League triumph, defeating Bayern Munich on penalties. After his departure and a brief spell with Rafael Benitez, Mourinho made his return in 2013. The success was not immediate on this occasion, with the Portuguese guiding the Blues back to the top of the Premier League in his second term.
The Blues completely collapsed in the following season, as Mourinho’s spat with club doctor Eva Carneiro along with senior players resulted in disharmony and a disastrous run of form. A defeat to Leicester ended his second spell, leaving Guus Hiddink to steady the ship before Antonio Conte arrived. Conte has mirrored Mourinho’s second spell, although the second term has not gone as badly as his predecessor’s. Chelsea were brilliant in their surge to the crown last season, although unencumbered by European football, unlike their rivals.
Seeds of discontent were sewn almost immediately as Conte appeared not be thrilled with his summer budget. Chelsea landed a number of players, but apparently not his primary targets. As a result, the Blues have produced good displays, although nowhere near the standard of last season. Their defeat to Tottenham and a draw against West Hama at Stamford Bridge have left them with almost no chance of finishing in the top four, highlighted by their betting odds of 20/1 to achieve the feat at William Hill. The club’s form has put Conte’s future in doubt, although there comes a point where Chelsea are heading down a dangerous path with regards their managers.
Source: FootballENRG via Twitter
Conte proved that he is more than capable of securing success in the Premier League. Manchester City’s inevitable run to the title this season has been imperious and few teams in the history of the league could have matched them. Their standards will surely drop in the next campaign as they have been more or less flawless and maintaining that level of play is almost impossible to achieve.
With the Italian in charge, Chelsea have a proven philosophy that has produced title-winning form in the Premier League. Manchester United have not won the crown since 2013, while Liverpool and Tottenham have not won the league since its reformation in 1992. Therefore, the Blues would be well placed to keep faith with Conte for the long term rather than making another switch to another system with a manager of the ilk of Luis Enrique. The title race will be even more competitive next season and the Blues have to ensure that they’re relevant rather than out in the cold like Arsenal.