The game against Sunderland was almost secondary as Chelsea fans had only two things on our mind — finally getting our hands on the Premier League trophy and giving JT the send-off that the most successful captain of the Premier League era deserves.
But of course there was a record at stake — most Premier League wins — and I think that Conte was desperate to achieve that so the game was played in a mildly competitive spirit.
Billy Jones perhaps needed to be reminded that this game wouldn’t change Sunderland’s relegation — the tackle/assault on Hazard was totally unnecessary. I did wonder whether Arsene Wenger had perhaps promised him a trial at next year’s Europa League contenders to ensure our talisman didn’t play in the FA Cup final.
As it was, despite the shock early goal by Sunderland, we won the game quite easily and the north-east club even played their part in ensuring that we were able to indulge in a bit of sentiment by ensuring that JT was subbed to rapturous applause in the 26th minute, with a guard of honour from his teammates. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
West Brom hero Michy Batshuayi even scored a brace to perhaps put him in contention for a shock stay at Stanford Bridge — who knows. His popularity has certainly shot up in the last couple of weeks.
But quite rightly all the plaudits were saved for Terry and Conte, who represent our Premier League pedigree and our Premier League future.
Terry gave an emotional speech at the end of the game and it was obvious that leaving the club he has been at since he was 14 is going to be a wrench. For the fans too. He has been an ever-present for so many years and his competitiveness and professionalism has been second to none. I’m not going to go into his perceived misdemeanours as football is a hypocritical business and many have done far worse and have not been vilified in the way that Terry has.
We have been very fortunate at Chelsea to have had some of the very best managers in the world, but without Terry’s leadership on the pitch I don’t think we could have won a fraction of the silverware that we have witnessed during his captaincy. Those that have played under him have all held him in the highest regard and I will always take their words rather than those of a quite frankly sanctimonious and biased press — a profession that would sell their own grandmother for a back-page splash.
Conte of course deserves all the accolades he is getting although, sadly, I note that in a bid to be controversial the press — yes, them again — are coming up with all sorts of hilarious ‘facts’ as to why Poch, Klopp, and even Guardiola are more deserving of the manager of the year gong. Apparently City have completed the most passes and THAT is why Pep should be top dog — yes, really.
So it only remains for Conte to bring home the double.
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