Signs of progress, but Conte faces huge job lifting Chelsea

Date published: Tuesday 26th April 2016 10:41

Antonio Conte: Has a number of problems to solve

Antonio Conte: Has a number of problems to solve

Antonio Conte faces a massive challenge restoring Chelsea to greatness next season, as Derek Bilton assesses a number of problems the Italian manager must address.

Back in December Eddie Howe’s Bournemouth produced one of the results of the season as they dusted Chelsea at Stamford Bridge during the final throes of Jose Mourinho’s eventful second spell at Chelsea. The Blues exacted a degree of revenge at the weekend but as 4-1 wins go, Saturday’s at the Vitality Stadium was not the most convincing. Howe’s men had countless chances, particularly in the first half, to change the complexion of the game but failed to take them.

Annus horribilis

Yet despite that win Chelsea remain on course for their worst finish Premier League finish for 20 years. It’s been an annus horribilis for the reigning champions, who’ve been shocking at times this season. Indeed this might just be the poorest title defence since pugnacious Australian tennis star Lleyton Hewitt became the first, and so far only, men’s Wimbledon champion to suffer the ignominy of losing in the first round at SW19 as defending champion.

So just what has gone wrong at Stamford Bridge? And how will the imminent arrival of Antonio Conte change things next term?

Conte has a well earned reputation as a disciplinarian. In his homeland, he is known as a Martello – a hammer. Strong, unyielding, relentless.


Hazard struggles

Eden Hazard: Form has been woeful this season

Well for starters the Martello needs to get a tune out of Eden Hazard. The Belgian scored for the first time in the Premier League on Saturday since May last year. Then, rather like the 211 Hammersmith to Waterloo bus, two came at once. His startling loss of form has been one of the stories of the season. Spellbinding in 2014/15. Insipid in 2015/16.

It is clear they need a striker to compliment Diego Costa. Radamel Falcao has been an unmitigated disaster. One goal all season, the Colombian will exit the Premier League this summer with an absolute kings ransom in wages. But what price reputation? Loic Remy hasn’t been quite as poor as Falcao but he’s hardly been a revelation either down the King’s Road either.

Defensively too there is much work to be done. Old Father Time looks to be peering tentatively over John Terry’s shoulder and may whisper in his ear at any point. And if he’s not Terry should be concerned about Conte’s reputation as a man who is not afraid to make unpopular decisions. At Juventus, he moved legendary forward Alessandro Del Piero out of the club without batting an eyelid when he felt the Turin phenomenon could no longer cut the mustard. A resoluteness at the back was the cornerstone of their last title win under Mourinho. So it will be interesting to see of Conte, in a nod to Jose’s methods, reverts to the dark arts of defending so beloved of Italian sides down the years. Or whether he tries something altogether more expansive.

Cesc Fabregas Willian Chelsea

It’s not been all doom and gloom however. There have been some positives from a largely forgettable season. Willian looks to have truly found his feet in London and has morphed into one of European football’s more elegant midfielders. Then there’s Cesc Fabregas. The Spaniard was the star of the show against the Cherries, creating Chelsea’s first three goals and having a hand in the fourth as he moved effortlessly up to third on the all-time Premier League assists chart (only Ryan Giggs and Frank Lampard have more). He looked lethargic and ponderous earlier in the season but is definitely now back to his very best.

The incoming Conte doesn’t have the profile of Senor Mourinho. But like his Latino counterpart (who he could be going head-to-head with if those Manchester United rumours are correct) he comes with a reputation as a winner. Indeed no lesser judge than Andrea Pirlo rates Conte as the best coach he has played under. I guess then the advice to Chelsea fans is to be patient. Be patient and believe in the old Italian proverb that ‘In small barrels, there’s good wine’.

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Home Forums Signs of life, but Conte faces huge job resuscitating Chelsea

This topic contains 5 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Badfella Type 8 months, 4 weeks ago.

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    James Marshment

    Antonio Conte faces a massive challenge restoring Chelsea to greatness, as we assesses the many problems the Italian manager must address.

    [See the full post at: Signs of life, but Conte faces huge job resuscitating Chelsea]



    Do not totally agree

    Chelsea have a good young squad , many of whom tasted success last season. Of course this season has been poor but why would so many think of bailing out?

    We may need a keeper but so far not confirmed. Defensively I think we could a lot worse than revert Dave back to LB and get a decent RB, however, Ake could fit in at LB and leave Dave at RB. Down the middle, and assuming that Kouma responds well to his injury, I think we could get away with it for another year as we have cover but if Stones is deemed to be the man then go and get him. Personally, I would keep JT

    Mikel will move on and a lot will depend on whether Matic can recover or not but we still have Fabregas and RLC but potentially another holder may be required

    I am assuming we will stick with the same formation as we do today even though there are rumours that we may go with 2 up top

    Hazard, Willian, Pedro and Oscar could easily all stay. Cuadrado may be coming back as well. Kenedy is a better forward than defender for me so I would say we have many options

    Up front I think Costa will stay and we have Traore so we do need another decent striker to act as cover for Costa and to push Traore

    We can then consider adding a couple more of the kids if we want to. KTBFFH


    nine nine nine

    I haven’t a clue who Derek Bilton is?

    And why is defending a dark art? It is surely just part of the game.And name me a team who has won the PL who haven’t been able to defend! Which both Leicester City and Spurs have underlined once again this season with two of the best defensive records in the PL this season!

    Three or four quality signings in the right positions and with Conte as Manager who comes with 3 back to back Serie A titles on his CV,I don’t think that Chelsea will be that far away from at least regaining their CL place next season.



    Any team that wins the EPL is always built on a solid defence. If Conte addresses that then we still have enough quality to put any team under pressure. KTBFFH


    Oscar Uzoma

    mikel is my state person but I can’t wait to see his back .. Iva not good…Terry should stay… morata my choice of a striker needed.


    Badfella Type

    out: Ivanovich, Falcoa, Remy, Oscar, Mikel, plus a couple more to allow for 3 quality new players plus 3 or 4 new youth/on loan players

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