Concluding the series looking at Antonio Conte’s time in chatrge of Chelsea.
Whilst the league campaign was starting to fall apart, light relief was provided by the FA Cup.
It had not started auspiciously though, Drawn away against Norwich City in the third round, they had only escapade from Carrow Road with a goalless draw, and could only draw at home in the replay after normal and extra time. They needed a penalty shoot-out to progress through to the Fourth Round.
More convincing wins at home against Newcastle and Hull City followed I n Rounds Four and Five,, earning them a quarter-fianl away at Leicester City. A tight match went to extra time before Pedro scored the winner for Conte’s men.
Southampton were beaten comfortably in the semi-final at Wembley, meaning that Chelsea returned to North West London three weeks later to face Manchester United in the final a match given extra significance by the fact that the man sat in the opposite dugout was former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho.
It was a largely forgettable affair decided in the end by one goal from the penalty spot after Eden Hazard was brought down in the box. Hazard himself took it and dully slotted it past David de Gea,
United had a second half equaliser from Alexis Sanchez ruled out by VAR for offside, and Chelsea had won the FA Cup for the eight time.
However, despite the Wembley triumph, the storm clouds were gathering, and in July of that year, the Chelsea board decided that they had endured enough. His treatment of certain players, and his acrimonious relationship with senior figures at the club breached the terms of his contract with the club.
Conte’s lawyers disputed the claims made by the club, and the case dragged through the courts, even whilst new manager Mauricio Sarri had assumed his duties at Stamford Bridge.
The case lasted months with constant sniping in the press from both sides before settlement was finally reached. Whilst the final judgement has never been made public. It was later revealed in the Chelae accounts that getting rid of the Italian had cost the club £26.6 million in compensation and legal fees.
Despite the bitter way in which it ended, there are those who believe Conte was one of the best managers Chelsea have ever had, and believe that had he been given the backing he needed, he would have led them to even more success, both domestically and in Europe,
Certainly, his statistics at Chelsea manager make impressive reading – he won 69 and drew 20 of his 106 games in charge of the club, and averaged 2.14 points per game in the league, a record bettered only by Sir Alex Ferguson and Pep Guardiola.
Spurs fans will be hoping he can bring some of that success to North London, but they should prepare themselves for the fact that it might all end badly.
Andy is an exiled English football fan living in Cyprus. He loves all sports but football is his abiding passion, and he still has dreams every now and then about scoring the winning goal in a Wembley Cup Final, even though his playing days are long gone. He follows most major leagues, across Europe at least, and has a favoured team in each. When he’s not watching, listening, reading or downloading podcasts about football, he spend his time worrying about his beloved Arsenal.