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It’s All Gone Very Quiet At Stamford Bridge

In the not too distant past there were rumblings of unrest at The Bridge.
Was Antonio Conte going to stay or was he going to return to Italy? Was he going to be sacked?
There were rumours that Roman Abramovich was fed up with his constant moans about not getting players in during the transfer window and how difficult it was going to be to compete, etc., etc. It all sounded very much like preparing to fail and having his excuses ready.
There may have been an element of truth in that theory because, last season, Chelsea had won the Premier League without too much competition from the usual sources.
Manchester City and United had both appointed new managers who were to oversee the overhaul of their respective squads although it was the Spaniard who actually moved out the most players.
Both were also involved in European and domestic competition which was to stretch their resources to the limit at times.
Arsenal were in the same boat competition-wise but, as usual, didn’t make many additions to their squad, preferring instead to reward their now under-achieving manager with a new contract so he could try, (and probably fail), to get back into the top four.
Liverpool had also struggled at times with a relatively small squad unable to compete at all the levels required of a top team nowadays.
Tottenham had promised much as usual and delivered little, also as usual.
Leicester City, as expected, had proven themselves to be one-season wonders, so the door was left wide open for a good team, with no midweek football to inconvenience them, to step through and take advantage.
Conte grabbed the opportunity with both hands and the rest is history.
At the start of this season it did appear, originally anyway, that he was only warning his employers what would happen if they didn’t invest in the squad but it did eventually start to irritate them. After all, they have been at the top for a few years now and probably don’t need the manager to tell them what happens if the playing staff isn’t improved.
Chelsea now lie in third place in the Premier League, three points behind Manchester United and eleven points behind leaders Manchester City. So what has happened?
Have Antonio Conte’s early season words proved prophetic? Are Chelsea not as good as last season?
The answer to both questions is ; yes. His warnings were correct, even if he didn’t need to voice them and his team are as good as last year.
The problem is that both the Manchester clubs are considerably better than they were last season so, logically, if Chelsea are only as good as they were then, with the Champion’s League now part of the equation, they have actually gone backwards.
Whatever happens between now and the end of the season, Conte has done well to qualify for the knockout stage of the Champion’s League and will also do well to keep Chelsea in third place.
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He seems to have realised that the Chelsea owner will buy him whoever he can, whenever he can and that he doesn’t need to publicly berate the Russian to get him to open the chequebook.
With this realisation all is quiet again on the west end front and Conte is concentrating his efforts on getting on with his job. This is, without doubt, the best policy if Chelsea are to win anything this season.
That and making sure Eden Hazard stays fit!
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