No matter how positive we try to be, there’s no papering over the constantly reported-on rift between Antonio Conte and his bosses at Chelsea.
It came up again just Friday, as it seems to in most press conferences these days. The tension, of course, is over Chelsea’s transfer activity. Conte looks at clubs like Manchester City, which has spent £448 million in Pep’s year-and-a-half in charge, and he no doubt wonders how he’s supposed to compete.
Conte on Man City quality: "There is a great feeling between the manager and the club and you can work the way you want to improve your team. Also coz City have the possibility to spend a lot of £££. When you link a good manager with a lot of money. This is the result" #CFC #MCFC— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) March 2, 2018
Chelsea look at their balance sheet and, with the goal of the club being able to sustain itself without massive infusions of cash from Roman Abramovich, buy young players who cost less than established stars, and bargain-bin veterans.
Given that Conte touched on the sensitive issue yet again just a couple days ago, it’s safe to say that the tension hasn’t dissipated.
Gianfranco Zola can feel it, too, especially as a Chelsea legend and a fellow Italian. In extensive comments to the Daily Mirror, he is trying to act as bit of a peacemaker between the two.
“If Chelsea lose Antonio, they are losing a very good coach. But if Antonio loses Chelsea, he is a losing a very special club.
“I’m saying it to Antonio and I am saying it to the club as well. So if the relationship can be fixed, it would be good for both of them.”
It’s heart-warming to hear that Zola still has such positive vibes about his old club and that love is coming right back at him.
But as a man stuck in the middle, he also feels torn in the current CRISIS.
“I want the best for Chelsea. This is a difficult one for me because of the relationship I have with Antonio and the club.”
Even though he’s several hundred miles away from the actors in our drama (Zola is a commentator for Sky Italia), the little genius is trying to defuse the tension and talk some long-distance common sense into both parties.
“Trying to be impartial, I would say that their relationship hasn’t been brilliant and, in a way, has affected the results.
“Without getting into the dispute about whether it is Antonio’s fault or the club’s fault, which is not my intention to do, it is certainly something that has to be worked out. Because the competition in the Premier League is tough and you don’t need to have problems inside the club.
“There are also probably situations we don’t know about. And I want to be constructive. It has to be addressed and sorted because the competition from the other teams is tough and every team next year will be getting stronger. And if you love Chelsea, we need Chelsea to be strong.”
Given Zola’s connection with the club and its supporters, and given his relationship with Conte, there’s a decent chance this interview will eventually be read by both sides of the rift. Perhaps they can thus both tap into the positive spirit of Dr. Zola’s relationship advice. We all love Chelsea after all.
“Antonio is very competitive but I believe also the club wants to be competitive as well. If they can really come together, then it would be good for everyone.
“If the relationship can be improved, I think it is a big bonus for both of them – for the club and the manager. And they can still win things together. And you cannot write this season off.”
-Gianfranco Zola: source; Daily Mirror
As the beautiful human being that he is, Zola’s possibly a bit a too optimistic for this cold, harsh reality we call modern football. But you never know in football, and a few key wins could yet change the narrative for the better.
It does take two to tango, as they say. but maybe Conte and his bosses at Chelsea can hear the music coming from Italy and decide that this is a good time for a pas de deux.