Thursday, March 30, 2023

Chelsea Should Accept Their Failings And Give Antonio Conte Freedom To Form His Team

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Sourav Bhakat
An ardent sports lover who loves to sleep, eat and watch Manchester City play. In that order.

Chelsea’s Antonio Conte was hailed as ‘The Godfather’ as he oversaw last gasp wins against West Ham and Watford before seeing off Burnley convincingly at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea fans were understandably over the moon having endured a pathetic last season where their team played a shocking brand of football and had to rely on the ineptness of the lower and mid-table clubs along with a bespectacled Guus Hiddink to bail them out of relegation fears and ultimately finish in the 10th spot.

Hardly a glorifying position and one which laid bare the absolute skirmish going on behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge. Jose Mourinho was blamed for Cesc Fabregas being a pretender and Eden Hazard’s flat refusal to contribute in defence was considered a justifiable excuse for not abiding by the manager’s instructions.

Fast forward to this season and the three victories at the beginning of the season sparked off celebrations akin to a title win by the result hungry and still in-shock fans who believed the issue was with the manager and not the players themselves. We have Conte and Kante. KTBFFH? Difficult this season, mate.

Chelsea were in absolute tatters at the back last season and it was clearly evident the defence was the first and foremost area required to be fixed with a set of players who were not cut out for the Premier League anymore+ John Terry. The clueless Chelsea board hesitated in approaching John Terry for a contract extension throughout last season and only when the Chelsea legend had celebrated his farewell with his teammates and the whole Stamford Bridge crowd, did they use rocket-science and come to the decision of keeping the only defender who could defend, in the team.

Chelsea's Brazilian defender David Luiz

As the Chelsea folks were celebrating the Premier League triumph in advance just because of the fact that they aren’t in the Champions League and Michael Keane and Ben Mee could not stop Diego Costa and Eden Hazard from scoring 3 goals, came the 2-2 draw at Swansea City. The post-match was talk was dominated by how Gary Cahill was a helpless victim who was brutalised by Leroy Fer in the build-up to Swansea’s goal which apparently could have been spotted from the moon according to the former Bolton defender. It was a pity Andre Marriner was on the pitch instead of enjoying a lunar rendezvous.

Then came the match against Liverpool where they lost 2-1 and had a central defensive pairing of Gary and David. Doesn’t sound right?

Yeah, they are known as Cahill and Luiz in Chelsea folklore as Luiz’s singular act of celebrating on top of a goalpost has etched his name alongside Lampard and Drogba in the hearts of the Chelsea faithful who are refreshingly honest in admitting the player can’t defend. But they love him because he celebrated by climbing the bar.

As Conte spends sleepless nights having managed Luiz and Cahill after Chiellini and Bonucci, we lie in wait for tasty rumours which link Ben Gibson and Michael Keane to Chelsea as their next John Terry, who incidentally will have another farewell party this season.

The level of exasperation is palpable with the rest of the big clubs boasting of players who fit or will potentially fit their team’s way of playing. Chelsea are still in transition mode and it is something the fans will have to realise and Conte will have to address, first on the training pitch and subsequently in the transfer window.

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