Should Chelsea fans really be surprised Antonio Conte is the bookmaker’s favourite to be the first manager to be sacked this season?

In short, the answer is ‘no’ despite it seeming to defy all football logic.

The Italian is fresh from signing a new improved contract and a club record striker after coasting to the Premier league title in his first season in charge.

But getting rid of the highest paid manager in the club’s history has never put owner Roman Abramovich off from making a quick change in the past.

 


Tottenham Hotspur vs Chelsea | Premier League… by FootballWhispers

Conte got a pay rise – not an extended contract – as reward for his remarkable success last season, but the perception is that he has spent much of his time since publicly moaning about the club’s perceived lack of success in the transfer market.

That was his first mistake, for only one person ultimately dictates policy at Chelsea – and that is the owner.

And although Chelsea missed out on a few targets this summer – Conte insinuated they were too slow off the mark in pursuit of his defensive targets – they have still spent £140m, including a club record £70m on striker Alvaro Morata, and recouped £84m with 17 players moving on in either permanent or loan deals.

Club sources say the manager had full knowledge of every deal, however bizarre the sale of key midfielder Nemanja Matic to title rivals Manchester United appeared.

The previous manager to win the title at Chelsea, Jose Mourinho, just made it to December of the following season as he unsuccessfully tried to exert his authority over the club before being dismissed. Conte’s fellow Italian countryman Carlo Ancelotti met a similar fate not long after he had won the Double.

The recent revealing comments of last season’s leading goalscorer Diego Costa, effectively on strike in his native Brazil having been told he is not wanted by Conte via a brief text, portrays a coach who works in cold isolation.

And the manner of the opening weekend defeat by Burnley, when Conte had two players sent off, is following a pattern for they also had players dismissed in their two previous games – the FA Cup Final and Community Shield defeats by Arsenal.

All of the red cards were fully deserved and possibly indicate a lack of discipline stemming from a lack of strength in leadership from the manager.

There was an air of resigned despondency even before kick-off for the Burnley game.

Seasoned Chelsea supporters and reporters have seen this painful pattern of huge success followed by dramatic failure throughout the Abramovich era.

Conte is his 12th appointment (including Mourinho and Guus Hiddink twice each) and they fear he is possibly already doomed despite his proven quality.

The opening day of Mourinho’s last fatally flawed title defence ended in a draw with Swansea, but is best remembered for the fall out with club physio Eva Carneiro.

And while it is easy to read signs of the beginning of the end after just one game this season, maybe it is not just a Chelsea thing, but a symptom of the insatiable appetite of modern Premier League owners.

In the past ten years only two managers – Sir Alex Ferguson and Manuel Pellegrini – have still been in charge a season after winning the league.

For either side of Ancelotti and Mourinho were Roberto Mancini at Manchester City and Leicester’s Claudio Ranieri, who were also sacked before the title-winning glow had fully faded.

And, remember, it is not long since Conte was being written off as out of his depth in the Premier League as a 3-0 thrashing at Arsenal early last season placed him near the front of the sack race then too.

So, he has ridden out storms before and is used to working under the most intense pressure having managed Juventus and the Italian national side.

He could succeed again and the fans still chant his name with passion, but something is clearly not right at Chelsea and if it comes down to a battle between the coach and the owner, there will be only one winner.

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