Chelsea had to start the season on a terrible note, as a brace from Sam Vokes helped Burnley get three points against the defending champions. Moreover, captain Gary Cahill and reliable midfielder Cesc Fabregas got marching orders in that game. However, this devastating match could not curb the spirit of the manager Antonio Conte.
“No I’m not worried, because it’s normal,” Conte said during a press conference following the opening game of the season. “It’s important for me not to close my eyes, but to focus on our mistakes and to try to work to improve.”
It is important to note that the former manager Jose Mourinho had to experience a similar day at the Chelsea dugout on the first day of 2015/16 season. After winning the title previous season, Mourinho started with a surprising draw against Swansea City at home. In that match too, one Chelsea player was sent off, drawing more parallels to the Burnley game last Saturday. And that certainly makes people wonder, is there a similar fate awaiting Antonio Conte? To put it into perspective, one should recall that Mourinho was sacked in the middle of that season, when his team were languishing at the bottom half of the league table. Chelsea eventually finished the season at the 10th spot.
While one can only speculate what is going to happen to the title defenders and their coach, there is definitely a need to ponder over what happened so far.
It is actually surprising that Chelsea failed to attract attention from top players around the world, even after their spectacular run last season. Alvaro Morata and Tiémoué Bakayoko are the only important signings this summer, while a hoard of youngsters and the ever reliable midfielder Nemanja Matic left the club already. With the two red cards and a lot of absentees that include main Chelsea star Eden Hazard, Conte might find it extremely hard to field a strong team against Tottenham next weekend.
All in all, the loss against Burnley actually raised a very important question. Should Chelsea have signed a few more players?
Fans are definitely calling for his head on this matter. They would have loved to see Romelu Lukaku, Danny Drinkwater or Sergi Roberto, all of whom were linked to the Stamford Bridge side, in Chelsea colours. However, none of the rumours became true, and it seemed that Conte might be having a row with the Chelsea management. But, during this presser, the Italian did not sound resentful at all. On the contrary, he left the ball on to the employers’ court.
Antonio Conte remarked, “The club is trying to do their best in the transfer market. I am a coach and now the season has started so my focus is just on the pitch and working with my players. This is my squad and this is my team and I want to fight with these players. The club is doing the work.”
Only time can tell whether Chelsea can manage to defend their title successfully. But, it is sure that next weekend’s clash against Spurs might define the season for Conte in some way.
Mauricio Pochettino’s side are definitely the favourites in this high-voltage game. Nonetheless, Chelsea supporters might feel a bit relieved to know that Conte sounded resilient about the clash: “We have one week to try to find the right solution. For sure, this game will be really tough but we must be ready. We must be ready. We must have the same will, the same desire to fight as the second half. I think we have to restart from there.”