Known as a man who’s easy on the trigger, Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich looks set to make the Italian tactician his new managerial victim at the end of the season.
Ever since taking over from Ken Bates in June 2003, the Russian billionaire was never too shy to exercise his executive dominance. Fifteen years into his Chelsea reign, Roman Abramovich seems to be getting ready for his 14th sacking overall with two men – Guus Hiddink and Jose Mourinho – experiencing the Russian’s wrath twice during that time. Antonio Conte is the Russian’s eighth permanent manager at Chelsea.
A notable presence at nearly every Chelsea game, Roman Abramovich did enough to impose himself as a caring person who likes to get involved in day to day operations but his track record of managerial sackings can be a reason for concern.
The arrival of Antonio Conte in 2016 was expected to bring stability after a difficult period for the London-based club and things wen off to a flying start with the Italian inspiring Blues to a club-record 13 consecutive league victories in a single season – which also equaled Arsenal’s 2002 record.
A galvanized Chelsea side ended up winning the 2016/17 Premier League title with two games to spare and Antonio Conte was widely applauded for making such a huge impact in his first-ever season in England.
The Italian was rewarded with a new two-year deal in July 2017 which is supposed to keep him at Stamford Bridge until 2019. At the moment however, it looks like Conte is all set for a premature departure. Roman Abramovich and Chelsea hierarchy did not allow Antonio Conte to build on his title-winning squad from last season and the Italian was rather blunt in expressing his disappointment over the lack of summer investments.
Conte’s attitude in press conferences has been one of a man who wants to leave, who is not happy and entirely satisfied and it seems that an overall lack of enthusiasm has done enough to seal his faith even before the season is over.
With his team’s hopes of landing the Champions League spot hanging by a thread following a disappointing 1-1 draw against Huddersfield on Wednesday evening, Antonio Conte is preparing to take charge of the final game of the season this weekend – at Newcastle.
Quizzed about his future at Chelsea, Conte did not give much away and by avoiding the question he only intensifies the rumours and speculation that his days are numbered at Chelsea.
The Blues still have a chance to finish the season on a high note as they will face Manchester United in the FA Cup final on 19 May, but even the potential trophy is unlikely to mend the relationship between the manager and the board.
Chelsea stand at 19/10 betting odds to be crowned the FA Cup champions.
Another season without the Champions League football will make it difficult for Chelsea to find a high-class replacement for Antonio Conte as Roman Abramovich begins search for the Italian’s successor.
The likes of Luis Enrique and Massimiliano Allegri as two notable names who have enjoyed plenty of success in Europe stand as two biggest favourites to replace Conte at helm. Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri has also emerged as a frontrunner for the job at 6/4 and might even hold a slight edge over Enrique and Allegri who are also eyed by Arsenal.
Sarri’s open flow football and an attack-oriented mindset could be the biggest appeal Roman Abramovich would be drawn to. An opposite to Antonio Conte whose tactical rigidness was often more of a hindrance to his undeniable genius, Maurizzio Sarri high-tempo football might be just what Chelsea need as they prepare to begin a new cycle.
Who do you think will be the best manager to replace Antonio Conte at Chelsea?
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