It is now, surely, a matter of time before ruthless Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich makes Antonio Conte the eighth permanent head coach dismissed during his transformational near 15-year stint on the King’s Road.
That is what a 4-1 defeat at Watford during a ‘must-win game’ will do to your job prospects.
Thanks for the 2016/17 Premier League title, but arrivederci. Can the revolving door please stop to let ex-Barcelona boss Luis Enrique embark.
As ever when the time for a purge at Stamford Bridge arrives, institutional impatience gets blamed. Yet unalloyed acceptance of this reality underpins their success.
Chelsea’s model exhibits a long-term commitment to short-term cycles.
Their triumphs make a mockery of the trope that continuity is key. They win with Conte – and win without him.
Claudio Ranieri, Jose Mourinho, Luiz Felipe Scolari, Carlo Ancelotti and Andre Villas-Boas are just some of the luminaries who can attest to this.
The Abramovich style has more in common with the managerial shark tank of Serie A’s middle ranks than it does the old-boys network found in many Premier League boardrooms. The scales are just different.
70.3% - Antonio Conte has the joint-best win rate of any manager in Premier League history (min 5 games), level with Pep Guardiola. Tension. pic.twitter.com/AxhxPCE5kw— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 6, 2018
Sir Alex Ferguson witnessed 10 different incumbents, permanent or temporary, on the Chelsea bench from Abramovich’s takeover in June 2003 until he called time on his epoch-defining, 26-year spell in charge of Manchester United in May 2013. The comparative major trophy haul between the clubs throughout this spell stood at United 11-11 Chelsea.
Vastly contrasting approaches, but the same end result.
Chelsea’s cold-blooded adherence to their principles sets them apart. It takes a unique club to sack Mourinho twice.
Too many sides in England vacillate between future desires and an immediate pursuit of results – see United’s fumbles in the post-Ferguson vacuum.
The traditional role of manager does not exist at Stamford Bridge. Neither does the job title.
Head coaches are anathema to the traditional British school. They are intrinsic to Chelsea.
Interchangeable figures man the training pitch, plan out tactics and select the match-day squad. They have input to recruitment, but overall responsibility falls to someone else – in recent years technical director Michael Emenalo, now director and Abramovich-acolyte Marina Granovskaia.
The emasculation of the manager figure has increased since powers were devolved to Mourinho, with mixed results, upon his return from 2013-15. During this spell, supreme talents such as Kevin De Bruyne, Mohamed Salah and Romelu Lukaku were sold for figures way below their current market values.
Granovskaia, who is officially “mainly responsible for player transactions”, is entrusted to guarantee this will not reoccur.
Despite his protestations, Conte must have been aware of this reality. It was no secret that he tore himself away from Juventus – the club of his heart – in 2014 because of terminal disagreements about transfer policy.
Both he and Chelsea will have thrashed out the rules upon his hiring. Or the contract extension that followed last July.
As with any model, it is not without its hitches. No matter how fluid.
Conte says for sure this is a difficult moment but he does not believe you solve it by looking for excuses. He adds that winners find solutions, losers find excuses. That is all from the boss here but there will be more words from him on the official Chelsea website soon. #WATCHE— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 5, 2018
Chelsea are the Premier League’s second-biggest spenders behind Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City since the Spaniard’s arrival in 2016. Comparative – and approximate – net spends of £88.8 million (Dh455.3m) to £342.7m (Dh1.8 billion), however, speak volumes of where the clubs are currently at.
A new bully is in town.
Then Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein vividly claimed less than two months after Abramovich’s entrance that he had “parked his Russian tanks on our lawn and is firing £50 notes at us”. But with a costly divorce and £1bn (Dh5.1bn) development of a new Stamford Bridge to pay for, ammunition is in shorter supply these days.
Conte’s recent gripes about recruitment also ring true. Midfielder Ross Barkley appears damaged goods, while United seem to have the better end of the Lukaku-Alvaro Morata and Nemanja Matic-Tiemoue Bakayoko transfers.
A leaner Chelsea have to fight smarter to usurp the division’s current top two.
Recent history shows they will keep faith in their core strategy, refine it and ultimately conquer. Whoever is in the dugout to oversee this is almost incidental.
Apart from being one of the elite international tournaments in sport, Euro 2016 was a social media sensation this summer.
It was one of the most talked about sporting events ever, with 195 million Facebook users having 950 million likes, comments or posts from June 10 to July 10.
Meanwhile, throughout the tournament in France, 61 million people on Instagram had 476 million likes, comments or posts.
Here, we look at the 10 most popular posts from Euro 2016.
CRISTIANO RONALDO (PORTUGAL) – 2.1M LIKES
GARETH BALE (WALES) – 920K LIKES
PAUL POGBA (FRANCE)- 506K LIKES
MESUT OZIL (GERMANY) – 488K LIKES
The disappointment of the bitter defeat is still the same as yesterday. It just was not meant to be and luck was not really on our side. Nevertheless, congratulations to France being a great host. The team and especially the people well deserved it after all the discussions and safety precautions throughout the country since November 2015. Adieu & merci France! #GERFRA #Euro2016 @dfb_team @equipedefrance
ROBERT LEWANDOWSKI (POLAND) – 309K LIKES
WAYNE ROONEY (ENGLAND) – 181K LIKES
MARC BATRA (SPAIN) – 170K LIKES
LEONARDO BONUCCI (ITALY) – 98K LIKES
Voglio salutare questo Europeo con questa foto. Un'esultanza figlia della voglia, dell'Unione, del rispetto l'uno dell'altro, della fame, dell'orgoglio di questo meraviglioso GRUPPO. Non una selezione, una Squadra. Orgoglioso di averne fatto parte. Ci abbiamo provato, 0 rimpianti per le partite giocate alla pari con Nazionali più blasonate di Noi. Grazie agli Italiani che ci hanno sostenuto, incitato, emozionato e grazie anche a quelli che non aspettavano altro che l'uscita di questa Grande Nazionale. Grazie perché sarete lo stimolo per continuare a migliorare. FORZA ITALIA, FORZA AZZURRI, VIVA GLI ITALIANI. #euro2016 #LB19
KEVIN DE BRUYNE (BELGIUM) – 90.1K LIKES
XHERDAN SHAQIRI (SWITZERLAND) – 75.7K LIKES
As the dust settles on another successful European Championship, the tournament of 2016 won’t just be remembered for the passion and unexpected success of Wales and Iceland, but also as one of the most talked about sporting events EVER on social media.
This was undoubtedly the year that, more than ever, fans, players and teams connected to share their excitement (and sometimes disappointment) for the beautiful game.
This was particularly true on Instagram, which can count on football as its most popular sport; more than 100 million people follow a football account and one in five of the most followed accounts are football related.
From discussing England’s shock exit against Iceland to Ireland’s crucial win over Italy, this year’s Euros was one of the most Instagrammed sporting events ever.
During the tournament, over 61 million football fans connected with their favourite players and teams on the platform and shared an incredible 476 million posts, likes and comments – with 59 million of these during the final alone.
One of the most exciting things has been seeing football players and teams build a direct, authentic connection with their fans. International stars like Cristiano Ronaldo, whose celebration after Portugal’s semi-final victory was the most liked Instagram image of the tournamentwith 2.1million likes, uses his account to share personal, behind-the-scenes moments.
Since the final, Ronaldo has shared a series of these off-pitch images with fans, from cuddling with the trophy on the plane home, to videos chanting with team-mates on the victory parade, to celebrating with his family, which have been liked by fans all over the world, more than 19 million times.
Even in defeat, players turned to Instagram to express themselves, Antoine Griezmann sharing a poignant post after losing to Portugal in the final.
This year, football fans were also able to experience the tournament on Instagram through video. Over the past six months, there has been a 150 percent rise in video views on Instagram and the Euros was no exception, with 514 million video views by fans during the tournament.
Some of the most watched videos include Gareth Bale chanting with Wales fans, Sergio Ramos sharing antics from training and Paul Pogba with Jerome Boateng sharing a moment in the changing room after France beat Germany in the semi-final. It helped fans get unparalleled access to one of the biggest sporting tournaments in the world.
Sport in general is booming on Instagram. The community has grown to 500 million and a third of those users (165 million) follow a sports-related account – football, tennis, motor racing and more.
It’s only a matter of weeks before we all get to experience the magic of the Olympic Games, too, and there’s no doubt that the beauty of Brazil will be shown through the eyes of the athletes and Instagrammers from around the world.
A FEW MORE POPULAR INSTAGRAM POSTS FROM EURO 2016 –