timberland insoles How win over Man Utd showed Chelsea boss is still up for the fight
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Antonio Conte’s Chelsea, the defending champions, are fourth in the Premier LeagueChelsea manager Antonio Conte was finally able to laugh off the constant noise surrounding his long term Stamford Bridge future after a turbulent victory over Manchester United that illustrated the intensity and desire that still fuels the combustible Italian.
Conte was not interested in talk about his own position, brushed aside an understandable inquisition about David Luiz’s exclusion, then swept away suggestions he had ignored niceties and tradition with a failure to shake Jose Mourinho’s hand at the conclusion of this 1 0 win.
It was just what Conte required, and very obviously relished, after the disappointment of a heavy midweek Champions League loss to Roma.
So why has Conte been under pressure?Simple answer he is Chelsea manager and history informs us every Blues boss is under pressure no matter what level of success they have enjoyed.
Mourinho’s first spell brought Premier League title wins in 2004 05 the club’s first for 50 years and in 2005 06, but in September 2007 he was gone after the breakdown of his relationship with owner Roman Abramovich.
The Portuguese suffered an even more spectacular departure in his second spell, sacked in December 2015 just seven months after winning his third title at Chelsea.
Carlo Ancelotti was dismissed minutes after Chelsea’s final game of the season at Everton in May 2011, just 12 months after winning the league and FA Cup double, while Roberto di Matteo was sacked after six months in permanent charge,
despite winning the FA Cup and the Champions League as a caretaker in 2012.
This is the Chelsea context, so it is no surprise Conte should be at the centre of speculation he may not be a long term occupant of the managerial office, despite winning the Premier League quite brilliantly in his first season.
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The 48 year old Italian appeared unsettled in the summer before finally signing an improved two year deal, although not an extension on his original three year contract after rumours his relationship with Chelsea’s hierarchy had become uneasy and he was also unhappy with summer transfer activity.
Chelsea’s shock 3 2 defeat by Burnley on the opening day of the season only reaffirmed the feeling of unease but the win over United puts Conte’s side back in the top four, albeit nine points behind leaders Manchester City.
A home defeat by City, plus a shock loss at Crystal Palace who had not scored in or won a Premier League game until then increased the feeling that Conte’s champions were struggling even before that heavy defeat in Rome, although a magnificent victory away against Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid in the Champions League should not be forgotten.
There has also been speculation emanating from Italy that Conte could return next summer, perhaps to his former job as coach of the national team or to AC Milan, the latter again receiving short shrift from the Chelsea manager.
And whereas progress was serene last season a bust up with Diego Costa in January being put on one side to ensure the main business of winning the title was completed Conte has occasionally shown his frustration with the sub plots swirling around Stamford Bridge.
This was most graphically and colourfully illustrated when he furiously dismissed stories that his old friend and compatriot Ancelotti was being lined up in the wings to return to Chelsea, while also forcefully repudiated claims players had been texting his former coach Steve Holland, which the club also rejected.
Conte demonstrated his command of the more industrial aspects of the English language to express his contempt for those suggestions,
but it was another episode suggesting life has not been quite as smooth this season.