THE 2015/2016 English Premier League season was not a very cheery one at Stamford Bridge. It was a season that not only was the worse season for the EPL top flight club, but a period that put to test, the reputation of Jose Morinho as a world class coach.
It was a season all sorts of reasons were given for Chelsea’s dismal performance, including that Morinho became too full of himself and started treating the senior players in the club with disdain who in turn, refused to give their manager results, with the support of other players.
The scare of relegation even loomed large but the players knew the consequences and did their utmost to navigate out of the relegation waters. At the end of that season, club owner, Roman Abramovic, known for his big pocket and his intolerance for non performance, started in good time within the season to scout for a new manager for his club but at the same time, fashioning out a negotiated and peaceful exit for Jose Morinho from Stamford Bridge.
Antonio Conte’s name re-vibrated even during the out going season, as the manager who will succeed Morinho. At the end of that season, it became a done deal and Conte, a very tactical and successful coach, swung into action and his first concern was to restore confidence in the players. He had a huge task ahead of him but was confident and had his plans mapped out.
In his first season at The Bridge, Conte left no one in doubt that he was in Chelsea for business. The 2016/2017 EPL season was Chelsea’s best in history, winning 30 of their season’s matches, staying atop the Premiership virtually throughout the season and winning the championship seven clear points ahead of second placed Spurs.
Having succeeded in his first season as Chelsea manager, Conte is faced with the onerous task of keeping some or most of his players that gave him desired results in the just ended season. Some players who made the team tick in the just ended season might be wanting out. Securing its sixth EPL title and coming close to clinching a double, Conte might not be in the frame of mind for a slip this coming season.
However, Conte has to contend with the fact that some of his players that contributed to his first season success in the EPL, might leave the club. Diego Costa seems as good as gone as Athletics Madrid is interested in re-signing him, while jocularly, Eden Hazard, the club’s talisman, is hinting on a possible exit even as it is yet to be seen how the club will let go of him. For Diego, he has already hinted on an exit.
Willian and Michy Batshuayi are also on the cards while John Terry had a heroic exit at the end of the season. Equally, despite their successes in the past season, Conte might look for players to give Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso a fight for their first team shirts to provide cover in the wing back positions.