And we’re back into feelsbad territory as Chelsea insider Matt Law starts down the path well traveled towards palpable discord and all that fun stuff. Hold on to your hats!
The Blues have lost two in a row. Last season that meant sack rumors in September. This season that’s not really a thing (yet), though partly because they’ve been usurped by exit rumors (even though Conte’s recently revealed that he’s settled in London and so, circumstances willing, presumably is happy to stay for a bit longer). Meanwhile, in the background, the constant simmering “clashes” over transfers and transfer targets never stay buried for too long.
But more importantly, as the Telegraph reports, Conte has apparently “ripped” into his squad in the immediate aftermath of the Palace defeat and “accused his players of taking their foot off the gas”. Sounds about right. I’m not sure we’ve ever really seen an angry Conte in public, but I imagine it’s quite spectacular.
Less spectacular is Chelsea’s injury situation, for which, as Law insinuates, Conte does have to take some responsibility. Hamstring and other muscle injuries tend to increase with workload, and while Kanté got hurt while away with France and that’s out of Conte’s control, the idea is that better squad management might have reduced the incidence of such injuries. It’s a tough balance to strike — Chelsea are a much worse team without Kanté, for example, so how can we ever justify not playing him in the vast majority of games? — and some of it is luck more than anything (the best players in the world play almost every game possible), but perhaps there is something Conte or the training staff can do in the wake of all these injuries to help reduce their incidence in the future.
Beyond all that, the report also makes Batshuayi the biggest scapegoat of the weekend, which is understandable in the sense that he was indeed not very good, but less understandable when the rest of the team largely played down to his level as well. Sure, Michy’s season has been disappointing, but it still does not warrant putting him front and center as the sacrificial lamb. Alas, it seems he might be off in January, with Chelsea supposedly dusting off our previous shortlist of striker targets: Benteke, Vardy, plus whoever Richmond Boakye might be. Stop me if you’ve heard all this before.