Chelsea: Conte should stay on for at least the next season

Speculation persists that the Blues will be under new management by mid-August but the Italian remains their best option.

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(Photo credit: Reuters/John Sibley)

With Roman Abramovich’s managerial gun cocked for the next round of Russian roulette, few people actually believe that Conte can duck the bullet destined to be heading his way. 

Following last season’s title win, Chelsea have fallen short of expectations which is a sure sign that sweeping changes will ensue if history keeps repeating.

This is one tradition, however, that Chelsea would be well advised to break with. Constant upgrades have become embedded into our lifestyles and now deeply permeate modern football. 

Within this cycle of consumerism it’s easy to lose sight of what you already hold and how it can be a better fit than the next well-packaged “upgrade”.

Chelsea are one such example of the folly in attempting to fix something which isn’t broken beyond repair.

Disappointing knee-jerks

The door may still be ajar but Tottenham’s win over Watford saw Chelsea’s hopes of a top-four finish crumble a little further. 

Their main chance of Champions League football now rests on beating Liverpool next weekend then hoping the Reds drop points against Brighton on the final game of the season. 

(Photo credit: Reuters/John Sibley)

An FA Cup win can bring an air of respectability to the Blues season but there’s still a general feeling of underachievement punctuating the mood around Stamford Bridge.

With acrimony having become a staple of the Italian’s press conferences this season, the unhappy marriage between manager and club can easily be deduced as a key reason for this relative failure. 

Yet despite this, Conte remains the perfect candidate to build the Blues back to glory and Chelsea should resist the urge to jerk their figurative knee.

A new blue phase

Since Abramovich took charge in 2003, there has been a need for Chelsea to prove themselves capable of competing on the biggest stages. Times have changed however and expectation has come to replace hope. 

What the club needs now more than any other time in recent history is stability.

(Photo credit: Reuters/John Sibley)

With more team’s now falling into the “elite” classification within the Premier League, a potentially disruptive and financially draining stadium development on the horizon and a team in need of improvement, rocking the boat too hard could see them take on more water than is good for them.

The idea that a new manager will bring a positive change is a tried and tested belief at Stamford Bridge but this will not serve to eradicate the problems which the club currently face.

Window of opportunity

 Last September saw Chelsea side with the majority (14) of Premier League clubs to vote in favour of altering this summer’s transfer window. 

The shortened window is now due to open only 16 days from now, two days before the FA Cup final where Conte’s men face Manchester United.

Appointing a new manager over Conte cannot happen prior to the end of the season, by which time club’s can already be making headway with new signings. 

(Photo credit: Reuters/John Sibley)

If Chelsea do opt to replace him, it will surely take time for any incoming manager to personally assess the current squad at first-hand and this is time they can ill-afford.

Following their disastrous attempts at doing business early last season, they will not want a repeat showing this year. 

The fact that no permanent replacement has yet been appointed in Michael Emenalo’s vacated role as technical director leaves a huge question mark over whether they can do this.

Fuel left in the tank

A run of poor results and sub-par performances from Chelsea players began with defeat by Bournemouth at the end of January. 

This tipped fuel onto the growing fire that Conte was reaching the end of his Chelsea career, something which was looking inevitable when Tottenham won 3-1 in South London to inflict a fifth defeat in seven league games on Conte’s side.

(Photo credit: Reuters/John Sibley)

Talk of dressing room unrest and an uninspired manager were quick to take hold but this doesn’t appear to be the situation any longer. Four consecutive victories, including an FA Cup semifinal win, cast aside such cheap talk. 

The rousing fightback in the league against Southampton highlights just how the players are still fighting for a manager who looks far from winding down his time at the club.

A time to strike back

Just as importantly, the fans of Chelsea too are still widely backing their manager. With plenty of support where it matters, only the board need to get behind their manager it would seem.

Now is a time when Arsenal face a period of change and Tottenham will have to adapt to a new stadium and the potential loss of two of their best defenders this summer. 

Having failed to bring silverware to the club again there will be more pressure than ever on Mauricio Pochettino’s shoulders to deliver next season.

With their London rivals disadvantaged and a clear target already set by the Manchester-based clubs as to the levels they need to improve, Conte already knows the playing field and should be given the final year of his contract to put the club back on top.