Should Chelsea sack Antonio Conte? Maurizio Sarri appointment seems imminent
Chelsea players who have not taken part in the World Cup have gone through double training sessions under Antonio Conte at Cobham training ground. Conte, whose days might be coming to an end as reports emerge suggesting that Maurizio Sarri set to replace him.
Roman Abramovich's record suggests that he won't be shy about sacking a manager despite their high credentials if their season is poor.
Winning the FA Cup might be good for some other teams, but for Chelsea, 2016-17 Premier League title winners, and one of the top clubs in Europe, need to be in the Champions League year in and year out, which is where the pride matters.
Chelsea finished in fifth place, 30 points behind the league winners Man City and 5 points behind Liverpool. At least a top-four finish might have saved Antonio Conte's job.
Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis stated: "Sarri is close to being the new Chelsea manager. My lawyers are in talks with his lawyers to finalize everything."
Too harsh on Conte
Antonio Conte was appointed as Chelsea manager after Chelsea had a disappointing season, where they finished in 10th place, which was intolerable and unimaginable. They sacked their fatherly figure, Jose Mourinho, who transformed the club into a title contender year in, year out.
Conte has been highly regarded as one of the best tacticians in the game, with his management he restored Juventus to the top of Italian football after eight years.
With Chelsea, after an awful season, the situation was far worse, and he had to repeat the same sort of success he delivered with Juventus.
To transform a team that was dis-jointed and below par for all the 2015-16 season to Premier League champions in the following season was an extraordinary achievement.
Just after a superb season, they hit a rock finishing outside the top four, which means they won't participate in the Champions League, which is usually a necessary requirement for a top-class player to sign for a club.
Even though Chelsea had one bad year, Conte won the title with that team and knows very well how to win a Premier League title. He had season of failure, and perhaps people may argue that he lost his charisma and drive, which he had shown in his first season with his constant animated touchline antics.
He might have learned a lot about how to deal with the war of words before the match begins with his constant involvement in word wars with former manager Mourinho. That experience may have helped, as they won the FA Cup beating Manchester United in the final. Conte might have failed a season, but sacking him can't make the solution and can't guarantee success either.
Who is Maurizio Sarri
Let us see who Maurizio Sarri is, and what are his credentials and achievements and let us analyze whether he has the capability to replace Conte.
Maurizio Sarri's record is not bad; he helped Empoli to regain promotion to Serie A after six years. He not only helped in promoting Empoli but also managed them to thrive in Serie A, which earned him a job as manager of Napoli and had a great three seasons, though they haven't won the Serie A but gave stiff competition even after losing their star player Higuain to their direct rivals Juventus.
Though he managed to give tight competition and helped Napoli to make progress, it will not guarantee immediate success in the Premier League, which is altogether at a different level than Serie A. It is not easy in the Premier League, where at least six teams are going for the title, and that is before we consider the possible shocks, such as when Leicester City won the title in 2016/17.
Even Pep Guardiola, who is regarded as the best in the business, struggled in his first season with Manchester City and almost lost a Champions League berth. Experience matters here and Conte has that.
Appointing Maurizio Sarri is probably not the solution for Chelsea, as he is not anyone like Mourinho or Conte, and history suggests that this isn't a long term job, and Sarri probably needs that time.
It is harsh these days how football club owners are dealing with managers, even though there are high expectations and financial deals that could be affected, it leaves an adverse image on the club.