Chelsea chaos continues: Everyone in dark over manager Antonio Conte as season starts

Chelsea chaos continues: Everyone in dark over manager Antonio Conte as season starts Featured

By / Premier Liga / Monday, 09 July 2018 11:00

The new season kicks off today for Chelsea. And the main issue is no clearer than it was when the last one ended, writes Dan Levene.

If you bet on England being out of the World Cup before Chelsea had their managerial wranglings sorted out, then this probably wasn't what you were expecting.
“Just over two weeks now until the Blues are back in match action,” announced the Chelsea Twitter account on Sunday, in what looked very much like a club being trolled by its own social media function.
Move along, nothing to see.

Monday 9th July is the long-held date upon which pre-season was to recommence for any Chelsea players without a recent Russian working visa in their passport.

And, still, the name of the manager for the coming season remains clear as mud.

Antonio Conte, for his part, has shown all the willing in the world: the briefing says that he has a full Stamford Bridge training plan for 2018-19 in his locker.

Though, as yet, nobody is quite sure where that locker might me.
The club's possession of his tax code is no guarantee that he'll actually be 'in charge' (as much as any manager can ever claim that amid his job description) for the coming campaign.

The long lenses will, no doubt, be trained on Cobham.

Will it be his usual parking space: the one located beneath the precariously positioned sheets of glass on the training centre roof? (Surely they've had a maintenance man on that job by now).

Or will his Nissan Juke be in the U21s car park: alongside the ghosts of Florent Malouda, Alex and Nicolas Anelka's vehicles past?

It is not just the lone remaining year on his deal that has led to all this speculation about his immediate future.
The tetchiness displayed on both sides of the club-boss relationship last term, accelerating to a fever pitch as the season ended, was impossible to ignore.

And Chelsea's barely concealed summer search for a replacement first-team coach seems only to have failed to reach a conclusion... because it failed to reach a conclusion.

A manager who looks like he doesn't want to be here; and a club that looks like it doesn't want him here.
Chelsea have to be in Perth, Australia for the kick off of an exhibition match on 23 July.

Take half a day off that for time difference; and then another two or three days off it for travel and acclimatisation; and they should probably be putting their miniature toiletries into little polythene bags around now.

Friendlies follow in Nice and Dublin; and the FA Community Shield is less than four weeks away.

Still, at least the programme of summer signings is underway: veteran third-choice non-playing keeper Eduardo having been re-signed from his status as a (brief) free-agent, in order to be sent on-loan to Vitesse.
All of which should go some way towards explaining why the odds are so long (if rapidly shortening) on Conte being in the technical area's main seat come kick off v Huddersfield on 11 August.

Put it this way: if he is, we're all in for fireworks.

In terms of rocky rides for a Chelsea boss, you'd have to cast your eye back to Andre Villas-Boas' abortive attempt at the Paris-Dakar Rally for a comparison.

Chelsea is a club which seems to thrive on chaos. But even here, there is a level beyond which it becomes counter-productive.

The tolerance of many fans seems to have been reached some weeks back. Time to find out how the players get on with it all...

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Cholo Radjavi

Cholo Radjavi

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