According to The Times, Chelsea are already considering a replacement for Antonio Conte, should the Blues part company with their manager at the end of the season.
While there are no plans to sack the Italian, there is a feeling that there could be an amicable departure this summer after disagreements over the club’s transfer policy and recruitment – concerns between management and board that certainly aren’t new to the west London club. So, what are Chelsea’s options at this point, and which one is the likeliest to ensure success next term? Football FanCast lay out four suggested solutions…
The Chelsea gaffer certainly hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with his paymasters and there has been a recurring narrative of an eventual return to Italy throughout his time in charge at Stamford Bridge. But Conte has already shown his quality, his switch to three-at-the-back inspiring Chelsea’s title win last season, and with the right tools he could be their best option of besting Manchester City next time around.
The vast distance between Pep Guardiola’s side and the rest of the big six might be wake-up call Chelsea need to start meeting the recruitment wishes of their manager, but it will take some sweet-talking on the board’s part as well – the underlying feeling is that Conte already sees his future elsewhere.
The kind of controversial, cut-throat manoeuvre that was commonplace during the early years of Roman Abramovich’s reign. But let’s face facts here; Chelsea’s Premier League campaign is already over, their hopes in the other competitions largely depend on the progress of Man City and the Blues’ performance levels are a far distance behind what they were last season.
For the sake of transition, it makes sense to bring in Conte’s replacement now and allow him the rest of the campaign to make changes and evaluate the quality of his squad. Act quickly and the next Chelsea manager could even squeeze in a signing before the end of the January transfer window – but it’s a question of who they can actually hire midway through the campaign.
Perhaps the most obvious option and the one that seems to be in the club’s thoughts – a simple change of one top-class manager to another, the leading candidate being Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone according to The Times.
The Argentine feels like the perfect fit for the west London club, championing the organised football that has been at the heart of their biggest successes, while Carlo Ancelotti represents a viable alternative, should the on-sabbatical Italian be interested in a second stint at Stamford Bridge. But there is one obvious problem – aside from a handful including Simeone and Ancelotti, the best managers around all currently work at the top end of the Premier League.
Chelsea could suddenly find themselves incredibly short of options if they part with Conte without a well-established successor already lined up.
Chelsea have rarely risked a manager unproven at the very top level under Abramovich’s tutelage, the only exceptions being Andre Villas-Boas and Roberto Di Matteo – neither of whom lasted particularly long. But the Premier League is changing and toppling Guardiola next season could a stroke of ingenuity, or at the very least someone capable of catching the Manchester City manager off-guard with new ideas and a fresh style of play.
In terms of emerging managerial talents who could further raise their games with better players, Burnley’s Sean Dyche and Watford’s Marko Silva particularly come to mind. Both are young and hungry and have shown what they can do with limited resources – whether they can replicate that at a major club, however, still remains to be seen.
So Chelsea fan, which is the best solution for the Blues? Let us know by voting below…