Reports: Antonio Conte close to Chelsea exit as board and players question his style
The Blues are 9 points behind in the Premier League title race and the club are fed up with Conte's frustrations
What's the story?
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte could be let go by the club before the 2017/18 campaign comes to an end. According to Yahoo Sport, the Italian manager's relationship with executives at the club has reached a tipping point while there are even suggestions that some players are unhappy with his training methods.
The report states that Conte has decided to end his stint at Stamford Bridge and would see out the season before packing his bags. However, that will be the case only if the club do not sack him first.
When asked if he was under pressure, Conte said: "I think every coach, every manager has to feel the pressure... But you know very well anything can happen in football."
Conte is also reportedly frustrated with the lack of support from club owner Roman Abramovich while he has also had a falling out with the Russian billionaire's principal advisor which could hasten his exit from the club.
Club director Marina Granovskaia is also unhappy with Conte's behaviour when things do not go his way off the pitch and even termed his behaviour 'disrepectful'.
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Conte is under a lot of pressure after recent results have put the defending Premier League champions in a position where they are currently nine points behind league leaders Manchester City.
Although the Blues are currently top of their group in the Champions League (above AS Roma and Atletico Madrid), the London side now face an injury crisis which has left the manager without his preferred midfielders.
The heart of the matter
In spite of leading Chelsea to the Premier League title last season, Conte has struggled this season now that the Blues are competing not only domestically but also in Europe. The former Italy boss made his displeasure felt when the club was unable to provide him with the players on his wishlist during the summer transfer window.
Romelu Lukaku was one of the main transfer targets but Manchester United managed to swoop in and sign the Belgian striker. Conte's problems were further exacerbated by the departure of Nemanja Matic to the Red Devils against the manager's wishes.
Players are also unhappy with Conte's rigorous training drills which may have contributed to a number of injuries - even though he mentioned that the training load was '70% less' compared to the 2016/17 campaign.
Tiemoue Bakayoko has a groin problem, N'Golo Kante is still sidelined with a hamstring injury while new signing Danny Drinkwater is yet to make his debut while he recovers from a calf issue.
Recently, Conte has also been involved in a war of words with Jose Mourinho after the United boss claimed other managers complained about player injuries - without explicitly naming Conte.
Video: Conte responds to Mourinho's comments on 'crying managers'
Unfortunately, Conte finds himself in a situation where he cannot win. In a club that has built its success on a revolving door for managers, the Italian may be the next one to face the sack unless he quits himself.
However, Conte will not be willing to leave without seeing out the season. Unless he can mend his relationship with the higher-ups at the club, gain the owner's support in the transfer market, and get his players to react in a positive manner, the Blues may be looking at a trophyless season.