In what has been hailed as an almost perfect game at Stamford Bridge last night, Chelsea showed the world that they are still a force to be reckoned with. Against a star-studded Barcelona team heavily favoured to win yesterday’s Champions League clash, the Blues executed Conte’s game plan almost perfectly.
Unfortunately that one crucial mistake means that a famous win turned into a less famous draw, which certainly isn’t for the second leg. Still, the performance served to show that Conte’s time at Chelsea is far from done. This team believes in his ideas, believes in him, and is ready to follow him into battle. And there are certainly plenty of tough battles coming up, with a trip to Old Trafford, the Etihad, and the Camp Nou our next three away games.
In talking with Italian media after the match, Conte struck a philosophical tone when the latest questions about his Chelsea future were asked, while also reiterating his happiness at the club and his intention to at least see out his current contract.
“In our line of work, we always have a bag packed. My intention is to remain here, but if something were to change, there would be several different scenarios opening up.”
“In 14 years, Chelsea have changed coach 10 times, so they do have a tendency to chop and change here. It’s no problem for me, in fact I really like pressure. I just hope it doesn’t affect the players.”
“I said very clearly, I have a contract to 2019. I intend to respect it. After that, anything can happen in football. I am happy at Chelsea, but both parties need to be happy.”
-Antonio Conte; Source: Mediaset Premium via London Evening Standard
Popular thought in football has often claimed that Chelsea are too quick to burn through managers. And while the club could have been more patient in some occasions, there might be no other industry more driven towards instant results and gratification then football. The constantly revolving door is something that you will find not only at Chelsea, but at every other top club as well. It is something that all stems from an environment with heavy competition, where the future of the enterprise is at dispute on a weekly basis.
Conte and every other manager who’s come before him and will come after him are more than ready for that. That is just the nature of their job and once you are no longer delivering the expected results, the head coach is the easiest part of the equation to change. Of course Conte will find plenty of gainful employment regardless of how and when his Chelsea tenure ends. It’d be silly for anyone to think otherwise.
But until the day of Conte’s inevitable departure comes, the sound of “Antonio, Antonio, Antonio” will echo around the Bridge.