Premier League champions Chelsea made a nightmare start to their league campaign, losing 3-2 against Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Saturday. To make matters worse the Blues finished the game with nine men, as Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas saw red.
The defeat was the last thing Antonio Conte’s side needed, as they have not experienced the best of summers. One major shadow hanging over Chelsea has been the Diego Costa saga that has created a negative atmosphere around the club.
Costa is out-of-favour at the club, but Chelsea have told the striker to return from Brazil and fined him two weeks wages. What happens with the Spanish international is unclear at the moment. The striker was the key to the Blues title challenge last season.
However, a return to the Blues dressing room is unlikely to help the mood within the camp, as Italian boss Conte does not want the striker at the club.
Shades of Mourinho’s last season
Unsurprisingly, already people are comparing this season to Jose Mourinho’s last campaign at Stamford Bridge. The Blues went into the campaign as champions, but after a poor start to their title defence, the team finished tenth in the table after Mourinho had departed in bitter circumstances.
During Mourinho’s final campaign the atmosphere seemed to turn and the Portuguese boss reportedly lost the dressing room. There were a number of other incidents, including Mourinho clashing with the Blues doctor. Their season turned into a mess.
Antonio Conte will be keen to avoid the same sort of atmosphere and panic setting in this season. The Italian will be calling for calm and will know that there has been just one game played. One game does not make a season.
Doubts over Conte’s future
Earlier in the summer, there were murmurings that Antonio Conte was unsettled at Chelsea. Italian club Inter reportedly offered Conte a bumper deal for him to move to the Milan.
However, Conte then signed a new deal with Chelsea. The strange thing about the deal was that the Italian did extend the length of his deal. The only thing that changed was that the Italian received a pay rise.
Conte has reportedly clashed with the clubs hierarchy on summer transfer targets. Recent reports suggest that the former Juventus boss was also against the club selling Nemanja Matic to Manchester United.
Conte walked out of Juventus in a relatively similar situation. It would not be a major surprise if the Italian left the club in the near future. In fact, Conte is now odds of 4-1 to be the next Premier League boss to leave his position.
At the moment that looks like a decent bet, considering the goings on at Stamford Bridge in recent months.
Football changes very quickly
The situation at Chelsea just proves that football changes very quickly. Back in May, Chelsea were crowned English champions and everything seemed rosy in the Blues garden.
Fast forward a couple of months and the champions seem to be in disarray. Their star striker is in limbo, their boss seems unhappy and they have kicked off their league campaign with a home defeat against a team that won just once away from home all last season.
Wins for Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham on the opening weekend have cranked up the pressure. There is still time to strengthen their squad ahead of the transfer window closing at the end of the month.
It is inevitable that the champions will bring in new players. However, there seem to be more problems than just the playing staff at the club. The problems look to be deeply rooted in the psyche of the club.
The season may only be a game old. However, I suggest the clubs problems started during the summer. The Blues are now paying the price for not addressing them and it may lead to boss Antonio Conte considering his future at the club.
Could Antonio Conte leave Chelsea in the near future?