In any normal world, letting Antonio Conte go would be madness. It was only last season that he won the Premier League after all.
But let’s face it, the world Chelsea inhabits is not a normal one. It is a parallel universe where getting rid of a manager even when he’s winning prevails. Indeed, since 2003 when Roman Abramovic acquired Chelsea, no manager other than Jose Mourinho has lasted more than 30 months, despite the club picking up a total of ten trophies since the Special One’s first stint ended in 2007. That haul includes no less than three Premier League titles, three FA Cups, a UEFA Champions League, a UEFA Europa League, a Football League Cup and an FA Community Shield. Not bad for a club with a managerial revolving door.
Which proves the point that Chelsea’s modus operandi of giving managers the chop like Henry VIII got rid of wives actually works. And who are we to doubt Chelsea’s nous in the managerial marketplace? When Andre Villas-Boas was handed his P45, who was placing money on Roberto Matteo leading Chelsea to Champions League glory? Anyone doubting that appointment was left eating a large portion of humble pie.
For most clubs not run as a billionaire’s plaything, it’s the contractual payoffs that make such a policy unattractive. Quite how much Roman Abramovic has forked out buying managers out of their contracts is anyone’s guess, but it must add up to a very tidy sum. For a man worth £10b, however, it’s tuppence ha’ppeny, the monthly cost of filling up his this three super yachts with fuel. But he can afford it, and clearly, it works for him, which makes it very likely that Conte will be shown the door at Stamford Bridge come the season’s end.
No doubt a new manager will come in, shake things up and eke out improved performances from Chelsea’s expensively assembled squad. He may tinker and spend £150m. Perhaps they’ll win the Europa League, perhaps the FA Cup. It seems to make very little difference who the manager is and how well he does. His shelf-life is unlikely to exceed a couple of years anyway.