It wasn’t exactly clear what happened when Antonio Conte got sensationally and seemingly rather harshly sent to the stands late in the first-half. Referee Neil Swarbrick had just made one of his many questionable decisions, ruling a goal kick when a corner was the obvious call, but it turned out that it was Swansea’s reaction to that fortuitous decision — taking their sweet time to get the ball back into play — that ultimately set the Chelsea head coach off.
The visitors were already wasting time at every opportunity and were continually and egregiously allowed to do so by Swarbick. Conte couldn’t quite keep it bottled in anymore, and let loose at the fourth official (Lee Mason), who then called the referee over for the punishment to be doled out.
Conte on the performance: "I think it is right to apologise for what happened during the game. In the first half, I saw that Swansea was wasting time. I said this a few times to the fourth official, but I didn't see anything change." #CHESWA #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) November 29, 2017
Conte: "I was frustrated for this situation. I tried to tell again and the referee reacted to this situation. For this, I apologise, for sure I made a mistake but I suffer during the game. I suffer with my players, it is a pity." #CHESWA #CFC https://t.co/oPQXqwnDDY— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) November 29, 2017
After taking a seat behind the benches for a brief period of time, Conte was ushered out of the stands and into the tunnel. He revealed that he watched the rest of the game in the dressing room, still “suffering” along with his players but more like a fan rather than a head coach.
Conte on watching in the dressing room: "I suffered in the same way, also in the changing room, also on the video. I didn't have the possibility to communicate with my players, it was very strange." #CHESWA #CFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) November 29, 2017
The only communication that seemed to happen was done via bits of paper, which caused some hilarity as players tried to dispose of them in the middle of a game.
In the end, no harm no foul and hopefully this is all that will come from this incident. No need for any touchline bans after this bit of silliness.
And it helps that Chelsea managed to find a breakthrough, too, to collect all three points.
“Today we created many chances, but we didn’t give any chances to concede a goal, so another clean sheet.
“In this type of game, if you don’t score early, you must have a lot of patience to try the best way to score, and at the same time you must pay great attention to the counter-attack. You can have a lot of desire to win and attack with all the players, and sometimes you can lose your balance. My players never lost their balance. They played an intelligent game, good win. We must be very good to win this type of game.
“Now we are improving. We are trying another system of play. I have the possibility to alternate these two systems. These are good options for me.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Chelsea FC
On to the next one.