In what is perhaps the clearest indication that there is some definite friction between Antonio Conte and at least one player in the dressing room (but probably a whole lot more), Willian has essentially erased the head coach from the photo of the squad celebrating the FA Cup victory last night at Wembley, which he posted to his Instagram story.
Willian, who only played the final few minutes of the contest — but thus made his squad-leading 54th appearance of the season (more than Azpilicueta or Eden Hazard, the only other two players to be at 50 or above) — replaced Conte with a stack of three trophies. No, he probably wasn’t saying that Conte sh*ts gold or is made of trophies like a champion.
Interesting placement of trophy emojis by Willian here... #cfc pic.twitter.com/yjTpN39Olz— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) May 20, 2018
While there is a tiny bit of chance that this is just “banter” to follow on from Conte dousing Willian with a bottle of champagne immediately after this picture was taken, it’s much more likely that this is the latest manifestation of the building “lost the dressing room” narrative — now with even less conjecture and more real evidence.
Chelsea’s celebrations. If you look closely you can see Conte soak Willian with champagne #cfc pic.twitter.com/GWfPnkgwsl— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) May 19, 2018
Willian has just a few days ago hinted at a souring relationship with the head coach, which apparently isn’t new. This adds to stories about Hazard wanting a change as well and the re-emergence of the fabled player power — now with fewer actual leaders and more apparent petulance.
Well, that's not subtle. There's been friction since last summer between him and Conte, hence United interest. https://t.co/cGBlEGNXe5— Nizaar Kinsella (@NizaarKinsella) May 20, 2018
Conte not lasting beyond two years isn’t that surprising. Even Rome fell, and it was supposed to be eternal. But the end is starting to leave a sour taste, despite yesterday’s win. And that’s unfortunate, and in a way, shockingly unprofessional.