Chelsea have confirmed on their official website that they have parted ways with Antonio Conte.
Last summer, it would be impossible to think that Antonio Conte would be getting sacked as Chelsea manager. The former Juventus boss had taken The Blues from 10th to 1st in one season, and had revolutionalised English football with his system playing three defenders. Chelsea won the league by winning 30 of their 38 games, the highest every in history.
But, the Italian has been relieved of his duties at Stamford Bridge, and is set to be replaced by Maurizio Sarri.
Here, we take a look at three moments where it all turned for Conte at Chelsea:
1) The 2017 summer transfer window
Conte didn’t get all the players he wanted from the Chelsea board, including Romelu Lukaku, Alex Sandro and Virgil van Dijk among others. There were some solid signings made, but there was a clear impression of a discord between the manager and the management. We’ll never really know if the authorities at Chelsea were completely at fault for not landing these signings. Lukaku, afterall, personally chose Manchester United over his former club, while Juventus were holding extremely firm over Sandro. Either way, it felt even before the season started that the bond between the two parties wasn’t the same as before.
2) Opening day defeat
In the light of the above disconnect, the worst thing that could have happened for Conte was losing the opening game of the season. Burnley, thought of by many before the campaign to be favourites for relegation, came visiting to Stamford Bridge and took a stunning 3-0 lead before half-time. This was after captain Gary Cahill had gotten sent off early on in proceedings. The Blues did pull back 2 in the second half, but were unable to avoid defeat. This clearly showed right from the off that this season was not going to be as plain-sailing as the previous one.
3) Slump in early 2018
Despite the difficult start to the season, Chelsea were still second heading into the new year. It was going to be close to impossible to catch leaders Manchester City, but finishing second and challenging for the cups would still be a decent showing for Conte in his second season. Early 2018 though, was a time to forget.
Chelsea lost the Carabao Cup semi-final to Arsenal after being in front, and won just two Premier League matches in the first two months of the year. This run included two humiliating defeats against Watford and Bournemouth, both by three-goal margins. As a result, they dropped out of the top 4 and ultimately failed to qualify for the Champions League next season. They were also eliminated from the Champions League by Barcelona.
It was not only the defeats, but the manner of the losses that really stood out. On several occasions, Chelsea were on top in the opening stages of matches, before completely folding towards the end. Their losses to Arsenal, Manchester United and even Barcelona showed an incredible lack of fight. Conte, usually so animated and vocal on the touchline, cut a sorry and distant figure instead. His passion for the game was the defining feature of the title-winning campaign from the season before. Now, it seemed like it was all gone.
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