About 10.17am on Friday morning, a long-held assumption became a reality in three simple but revealing paragraphs:
“Chelsea Football Club and Antonio Conte have parted company.
“During Antonio’s time at the club, we won our sixth league title and eighth FA Cup. In the title-winning season, the club set a then-record 30 wins in a 38-game Premier League season, as well as a club-record 13 consecutive league victories.
“We wish Antonio every success in his future career.”
There should have been a HTML error. Paragraph one and two don’t correlate. Of course, they shouldn’t. Their Russian-backed WordPress should have refused to publish it, given the bizarre gulf between expectation and reality in the statement.
It was finally confirmed – being Chelsea boss is the toughest job in English football.
The first club to fall, or if you prefer, to climb, to oligarch-fuelled riches, were the south London outfit almost 15 years ago. They could well be the case study for others when it comes to wavering attitudes from impatient owners who lack the cultural awareness or football IQ to understand how intricate a managerial role at a high-level entity truly is.
Chelsea, in a historic guise, represented an area; a very specific group of people in a city that was undergoing incredible globalisation. Now, much like most Premier League clubs, they represent little more than the musings of a billionaire. But, the Blues have felt the brunt of impatience and delusion more than most.
The message they’re sending out to the footballing world isn’t even coded well enough to entice anymore:
“During Antonio’s time at the club, we won our sixth league title and eighth FA Cup. In the title-winning season, the club set a then-record 30 wins in a 38-game Premier League season, as well as a club-record 13 consecutive league victories.”
So, two trophies and a Premier League record. There aren’t too many managers – past, present or future – that can replicate that haul.
So, presuming dear Roman hasn’t decided Chelsea are a bigger club than Real Madrid and has started demanding a league title and a Champions League success every year, the club are revealing that extracurriculars are responsible for Conte leaving.
But not foul play in his own affairs, but rather failure to buy into the cult of player power that’s long-existed at Chelsea.
Who gives these players the power, though? Maybe, by proxy, the clash is between a manager’s vision and a board’s obsession with being directly involved in the process.
Sky cameras don’t help the egotistic nature of these owners – they feed them by flashing the lens at them every time Chelsea and countless others score a goal. Sorry Roman, this club isn’t about you, no matter how much money you pump into it.
The funny thing is – Chelsea will only regain identity with a sense of familiarity and continuity. Since they’ve been stripped of their sense of pride in who and what they represent, perhaps they can build a cult of personality associated with a manager.
Conte had that, but evidently, him being hoisted on the shoulders of the players he managed so well didn’t go down well with those believed the on-field success was solely due to their off-field chequebooks.
In order for Chelsea to succeed going forward, a decision must be made to stick with a strong-willed gaffer and let him take centre stage – it’s the Premier League’s only proven method for success: Ferguson, Wenger, Guardiola, Conte, Mourinho.
Until the line between boardroom and changing room is redrawn, Chelsea will continue to suffocate under the pressure of illogical Russian need for attention.