Last year’s Premier League champions Chelsea, and manager Antonio Conte will have been preparing in the summer to mount a strong defence of their title.
They won the league by a seven-point margin last season, beating the likes of Spurs, Manchester City and Liverpool to the crown and Conte impressed everyone with how he got Chelsea playing after a bit of a rough patch in the early stages of the campaign. Fast forward to now and the picture couldn’t look any different.
Conte’s men currently sit in 5th place in the league and are unlikely to secure a Top Four spot with Spurs six points ahead of them in fourth. With only four league games left to play, Chelsea look to have gone from being a title-winning side to a team on the periphery and this is not what anyone ever imagined would happen. It looks increasingly likely that Conte will leave Stamford Bridge in the summer, and while this has been a hugely disappointing season, he could yet still deliver some silverware in the form of the FA Cup.
You could say that this is Conte’s last chance with Chelsea in a way. It’s unlikely he will be the manager next season, as rumours persist that the club are looking to replace him, but it’s his chance to at least deliver some silverware which the fans can celebrate. Chelsea have beaten Norwich, Newcastle, Hull, Leicester and Southampton so far in the competition and they will face Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United in the final at Wembley, in what is sure to be an epic showdown.
It would certainly be a good way to bow out as manager, not only winning the FA Cup but doing so against Jose Mourinho, who has a superb record at Wembley. Conte and the Chelsea fans would be able to look back on his time at the helm fondly, especially after leading them to the league title last year, when all the talk was about Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho. He’s proven himself to be one of the better managers around and you could say that Chelsea’s poor recruitment in the summer has not only cost him but the club as well.
If Conte does manage to guide Chelsea to FA Cup success, it would also make it more likely that a top club will come in for him in the summer too. These days the better teams out there want managers who have proven themselves capable of delivering silverware. Adding an FA Cup to his haul of a Premier League title and three Serie A crowns shows he’s capable of bringing success in two of the biggest leagues in the world and this instantly makes him hot property on the management circuit.
While winning the FA Cup and somehow managing to clinch fourth place would be an even better outcome, it seems desperately unlikely that a Top Four finish is on the cards at this late stage. Conte and Chelsea will go their separate ways and then the rumour mill will once again start turning in regards to who will be the man to replace the outgoing fiery Italian.