Chelsea Football Club. There’s a list of things that feel very Chelsea, there’s a series of managers that feel very Chelsea and there’s most definitely a group of players that feel very Chelsea. You know the type. I’m thinking lads who are quite flashy, usually hailing from either the coastline of the Mediterranean, the cool part of Belgium where all the footballers are from, or the Brazilian beaches, and are all very good footballers. But just not quite good enough to play for Real Madrid.
In the same way that these things all feel very Chelsea, this pre-season has also been inherently typical of the West London club’s recent track record in the last decade or so. Against seemingly all obvious common sense and protocol, they waited until the second week of July before sacking Antonio Conte and appointing his fellow countryman Maurizio Sarri. The delayed appointment of the ex-Napoli coach can maybe be excused due to complications in the compensation package for the Naples-based club, whom Sarri led to second place last season in Serie A. However, the fact that Antonio Conte was allowed to come back and start pre-season training with all the lads not in Russia, was both wild and non-sensical.
Surely it’s all a mix-up, just one big demarcation dispute. Similiar to Spurs’ non-existent transfer committee, everyone must think it’s someone else’s job. All the boys on one big jolly on Roman’s yacht for six weeks in Monaco, drinking out of the F.A. Cup, content in the knowledge that Ron Gourlay is at home sorting out the Sarri deal. In reality, a hastily written ‘to-do note’ from the oligarch has led him to mistake “sack Conte” for “track Conte”, spending his summer hiding in a Sicilian bush, desperately trying to avoid the Italian’s gaze while taking pictures of him and his family and trying to keep his 8-inch zoom lens as low-key as possible so as to complete the mission undetected.
— Nairalistic.Com (@nairalistonline) July 23, 2018
The lads have turned back up to Cobham Training Ground on July the 1st thinking Antonio is just one of those crazy people who keeps on turning up to work despite being sacked. They’re ready to give the police a ring before they head into Gourlay’s office and find a plethora of half-naked photos of their “ex-manager” surrounded by dozens of half-empty coffee cups and energy drinks. All of this in front of a notice board with countless pictures of generic middle-aged Italians pinned on, surrounded by question marks and networked by a series of darting red lines. “For fuck’s sake lad”
The real story of Conte’s departure is even more Chelsea. The man who led the club to a league title and an F.A. Cup win in two seasons is now reportedly taking legal action against the Londoners. Not for sacking him, but for how long it took them to do it. Several news outlets have claimed that he is seeking further compensation (on top of a £10 Million salary he is likely to receive for the last year that was remaining on his contract) for damages to his reputation, his career and possible future earnings. All of this he believes is due to the length of time he was unable to seek new employment, despite the fact that he is planning on taking a sabbatical. Chelsea Football Club.
On paper, it looks like an increasingly challenging season for the Blues. With only 16 days left in the transfer window, they are yet to add to the purchase of Jorginho from Napoli. Their squad looked stretched at times last year, and this season they’ll have to contend with Thursday-Sunday football in the Europa League, the most demanding schedule possible. It’s underplayed how big a deal it is, you may as well start on minus 5 points. All the best getting a result at Old Trafford, 72 hours after Kuban Krasnodar away.
Add that to Sarri’s delayed arrival, a ruptured pre-season which saw 14 players at the World Cup, a lack of games which means they will only have 270 minutes under their belts before meeting Manchester City in the Community Shield, huge question marks over the statuses of Eden Hazard, Willian and Thibaut Courtois, and the brakes being firmly applied to development of their new stadium, and it’s clear that certainly not everything is rosy at the Chelsea Flower Show this year round.
“Sarriball” is the word dominating Chelsea forums and chat rooms (chat rooms, wow I sound old). The former Empoli and Sorrento boss’ style has been likened to Guardiola’s philosophy and described as tiki-taka but with more of an emphasis on moving the ball forward (not very Chelsea mate).
The 59-year-old has had 18 jobs since 1990 though, not staying in any of them for more than 3 seasons. He also looks like a cross between Mr Slugworth (the baddie from the Willy Wonka movie) and Claudio Ranieri. How Chelsea can you get Maurizio, how Chelsea can you get?
Then again, there’s one thing more Chelsea than all of that. Going out and winning the league with about 95 points against all rational logic and explanation.
All the best.