Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich has denied that he hosted emergency talks with his directors following the 2-1 defeat to Liverpool last Friday night, according to Sky Football.
Newspaper reports yesterday claimed that the Russian billionaire kept his directors at Stamford Bridge until one in the morning in the wake of Antonio Conte’s first defeat as Blues manager. The Italian was reported to be unhappy that Chelsea failed to make the signings he wanted during the transfer window. That was summed up by the fact that he had to play David Luiz in the absence of John Terry in central defence; a player Jamie Carragher believes is ‘not a Conte player’.
Chelsea spent the third highest amount of money this summer, splashing out £116 million on Michy Batshuayi from Marseille, N’Golo Kante from the defending Premier League champions Leicester City, Marcos Alonso from Fiorentina and the re-signing of Brazilian Luiz from Paris Saint-Germain. It has been suggested that Conte didn’t give the green light to all of those signings but the West London club is structured in such a way that the manager isn’t the loudest voice when it comes to transfers.
Abramovich has been known to have a short-fuse when it comes to his managers. Avram Grant lasted just eight months when he took over from José Mourinho when the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ left the club for the first time in 2007. Luis Felipe Scolari lasted the same amount of time back in 2008-2009, with Guus Hiddink not being offered the job permanently after taking over from him on an interim basis.
André Villas-Boas also lasted eight months from June 2011 until March 2012 and Roberto Di Matteo, who won the Champions League for the Blues in 2012, also survived for just eight months. Rafa Benitez was appointed on an interim basis to replace the Italian and left the club at the end of the season after six months in charge. Likewise Hiddink, returning for his second spell as interim boss when Mourinho was sacked last December, survived for the five months until the end of last season.
Chelsea won their opening three Premier League games under the former Italy national manager’s leadership before dropping two points to Swansea at The Liberty Stadium. They went in 2-0 down at Stamford Bridge on Friday night after a dominant first-half display for Liverpool was capped off by goals from Dejan Lovren and Jordan Henderson. They did pull a goal back through Diego Costa in the second-half but it wasn’t enough to stop the Italian enduring his first home defeat as a manager since 2013.
The press jumped on the poor Chelsea performance combined with the manager’s seeming ambivalence towards his new signings in order to speculate about the former Juventus boss being under pressure from the club’s owner already. However Sky have declared that there were no late-night discussions in the aftermath of the home loss and that Abramovich is happy with his managerial appointment.
Conte seemed to be likely to be under increasing pressure today when his team went 2-0 down against Leicester City at The King Power Stadium last night. The foxes took a commanding lead in the first-half of the EFL Cup before Gary Cahill pulled a goal back just before half-time. Cesar Azpilicueta got the Blues level and Cesc Fabregas scored two goals in two extra-time minutes after Wasilewski was sent off for the home team. The 4-2 win after extra-time means that Chelsea will be in the draw for the last sixteen of the competition and any pressure that had been on the manager has been eased a touch.