Since Mourinho went, it has been a hard slog. Guus has received many plaudits for the way he handled the team in the interim, and I have no doubt that he is a good guy, but his style of play and tactics have hardly been revolutionary – a draw specialist and with the exception of a couple of notable games, a dull spectacle week in week out.
It could be argued that had Jose stayed, there was a real possibility that we could have been relegated – we’ll never know that and we’ll probably never find out what really went on in that dressing room.
In recent weeks, a few of the players have talked about letting him down – but it’s all too little too late. I think many expected a dramatic upturn in performances and our results after the high-profile sacking, but we never really saw either.
Without knowing which players fell out with Mourinho, we cannot speculate which scenario would have been better for the club in the long run. Thing is, we just all need to move on – put our hope and faith in Conte and pray that he’s a man with a plan.
What hasn’t helped is hearing the likes of Courtois and Matic whining to the papers that they want out. As a fan, these gripes are pretty difficult to stomach given the performances from these two, amongst others, have put us in the position we are in.
The most difficult aspect to predict is how much interference from the club the new manager will have to endure. Will he be buying the players? How much input will Emenalo have? If things don’t go to plan, will the club stand by the manager? On recent evidence we can only hope that Conte hits the ground running.
Hazard has committed his immediate future to the club and miraculously found his fitness and form with only a handful of games left – not ideal but a timely reminder that he is special and can single-handedly change the fortunes of a team.
The only thing really left to resolve is whether John Terry will still be with the club next season. It has the potential to get ugly but the club finally got its act together and took the upper hand in the PR game by making a statement that an offer had been made and that JT is considering it.
Now the club could have offered anything – half a pint of lager and a packet of crisps for all we know. If JT accepts they win, if he rejects the papers will no doubt make him out to be just another greedy footballer and the club win again.
JT has partially mitigated his decision not to accept immediately by again going public that the role is ‘considerably different’ to his current role. Rumour has it that the financial package is considerably less, he must relinquish the captaincy and that he will not be an automatic choice for the first team.
No player can consider himself an automatic first team starter and Terry must understand that more than anyone, but relinquishing the captaincy would hurt. It has always meant a lot to him and is part of who he is. Would he be the same player without it?
Then there is the financial side. Exactly how much have they slashed his wages?
“But he’s a millionaire a dozen times over, if he really loved the club, he would just accept,” I hear some of the more naïve cry. It just doesn’t work like that. A player wants to be wanted, he wants to be important to a team. The board at Chelsea are currently paying lip service to him to play the PR game and to placate the fans – this could get very nasty before it is resolved. Let’s hope the club comes to its senses.
Perhaps this season has come at a good time – I think every now and again we need bringing back down to earth lest we become too spoilt. A shocking season is a way to reaffirm your support. The fans will always be here – we may whinge, we may moan, we may rage, we may curse but we love the very bones of our respective clubs and will do ’til the day we shuffle off this mortal coil. So here’s looking forward to next season – and many, many congratulations to Claudio and Leicester who proved that the fairytale is possible. Have a good summer and see you all in August.