The questions have started. Maurizio Sarri insists he’s frustrated rather than worried about his job, but the questions have started. And once they start, there is only one inevitable conclusion. Sooner or later, the trapdoor is pulled and the search for the next managerial casualty begins. That’s the reality of football management, especially at Chelsea — though it’s debatable just how unique we may still be in this regard, if at all.
Meanwhile, Antonio Conte is enjoying his sabbatical, hanging out in London and Italy and wherever else. Yesterday, he bore witness to another shocking result, Juventus losing 3-0 to Atalanta in the Coppa Italia. Afterwards, mischievous reporters asked for a comment about Chelsea’s historic result at the same time, which Conte sidestepped with ease. He did confirm that the legal action against the club is still ongoing (the one about Chelsea sacking him with just cause and thus no severance or proper compensation), but that the rest of it is just the past now.
“I’m fine, very good. I certainly miss the training ground, but I had decided to have some rest for this year. I am very relaxed and waiting for the next destination. I went to see Atalanta v Juventus, as I flew in to Milan from London to attend the game. I have not received any offers from Italian clubs.
“I didn’t know [about the Chelsea result]. Chelsea is the past for me now. I don’t want to talk about it, especially as there is still legal action on-going between me and the club.”
-Antonio Conte; source: Football Italia
Never say never, Antonio! (Meanwhile, Mourinho is being linked with a return to Internazionale and Hiddink is in China or some such, if you’re wondering, which you probably are.)
In any case, Sarri ostensibly has some time to get things sorted out but he’s entering a crucial period of the season that has proven the demise of several others before him. Sarri’s two closest analogues were both sacked in early spring, Scolari in February and Villas-Boas in March. Last season, Conte’s fate was sealed with the results during this period as well. And other than the weekend’s home match against bottom of the table Huddersfield, February looks like a scary affair.
Buckle up, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
Chelsea's February fixture list is congested and horribly spaced...— Hiffey (@CheIseaChurch) January 28, 2019
10th PL- Man City (away)
14th UEL - Malmo (away)
17th FA- Man Utd (home)
21st UEL - Malmo (home)
24th LC - Man City (final)
27th PL - Tottenham (home)
6 games in 17 days #CFC pic.twitter.com/AD5YjI40B3