Chelsea returned to training on Thursday after a day of reflection and recovery following Tuesday night’s uncomfortably lopsided defeat in Rome, and in addition to some serious work on the training ground and in the video room, the players were subjected to the “full hairdryer treatment” regarding their “surrender” in the second-half, with special emphasis on them “accepting” defeat amid comical “schoolboy” defending.
Apparently no player was spared, regardless of involvement on Tuesday night, with Chelsea insider Matt Law of the Telegraph reporting that Kenedy, for example, was given a lecture after yawning during the meeting. But while the individual examples make for some salacious reading — oh to be a fly on that wall! — the most important parts of Law’s report are the following three claims.
- There is no palpable discord between players and coaches, with “many senior players” believing and “accepting” that they were “deserving” of a dressing down while showing an understanding that they must display “greater leadership” on the pitch.
- Conte is ready to drop “any players who do not follow his orders” or “do not show an immediate improvement”.
- Conte “retains” the backing of the Board, who remain “sympathetic” that the squad’s injury issues this season have exacerbated the shortcomings of the summer transfer window.
So that sounds like a lot of tough love, which should be the least expected outcome at this point. The players who did speak after Tuesday’s defeat, Courtois and Rüdiger, both talked about Chelsea lacking belief and spirit in the second half, matching Conte’s post-match comments about the team showing a lack of motivation and hunger.
Tough love can of course backfire easily — just as any motivational technique — but for now, everyone seems to be on the same page. As long as everyone remains willing to put in the work and effort required, we should be fine.
All that said, there is no better “cure” than winning. In fact, it’s probably the only cure.