It seemed for much of last season that the hand writing was on the wall for Antonio Conte and that he would be sacked after his side’s FA Cup final match against Manchester United, regardless of the result. As it happened, Chelsea emerged victorious (1-0 through Eden Hazard), but it still looked highly unlikely that the former Juventus and Italy boss would be in charge at Stamford Bridge come the start of the 2018/19 campaign.
Just under a month later, Chelsea have yet to make any announcement on their manager’s future amid speculation linking them with the likes of Maurizio Sarri and Luis Enrique. Indeed, their blunt refusal to pay Sarri’s €8 million release clause annoyed Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis so much that negotiations are now at a complete standstill. There is a good chance that the 59-year-old will now take a year off, having also rejected a lucrative move to Russian Premier League giants Zenit St. Petersburg.
These are worrying times for Chelsea supporters, who surely recognise that no good can come of being subjected to another 12 months of logger-heads between Conte and his superiors. They remain at odds over transfer policy and are at the centre of a long-running feud which has only worsened since Michael Emenalo took the decision to stand down from his role as technical director in order to take up a similar position at Monaco. Ironically, the Ligue 1 club have now established themselves as a model of stability under their Russian ownership.
Where exactly do Chelsea go from here? They are, as things stand, in complete confusion. No one is taking responsibility for making the tough decisions they know must be made if they are to keep up with the likes of Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham and Liverpool next season. Arsenal who are known far avoiding waste of money are putting them to shame with their early flurry of transfer activity under Unai Emery and Sven Mislintat. Answers must come quickly or they risk jeopardising their chances of achieving any kind of success next season before it even gets started.