Terrace Talk: Chelsea - Time club showed more faith in special Conte

Jurgen‘s angry. Apparently, he’s angry cos that nasty old referee stopped him making the substitution that would put a man exactly in the spot that would have prevented Willian’s goal.

So it was Michael Oliver’s fault Liverpool didn’t collect all three points and had nothing to do with the fact that Klopp decided to leave two of his best players on the bench. After all, it wasn’t as if Chelsea had been threatening a goal for at least 20 minutes before the Brazilian ensured the teams shared the points. Klopp could/should have made some changes then but failed to do so. But what do we know — he’s the genius, allegedly.

That said, I was disappointed Chelsea couldn’t seem to cause them more issues despite two of their most influential players being on the bench. Conte still seems unsure how to handle a team that throws pace in our faces right from the off — we weathered the storm but only just. Some Chelsea fans will argue that only Bakayoko losing the ball cheaply (again) led to the goal (scored inevitably by Salah) but neither did we look like scoring until those final 20 minutes — when Pedro and Willian bought us pace and Fabregas provided a bit more invention to share the load with the heavily marked Hazard.

Tiredness will be cited but this excuse rankles with me somewhat - these are professional sportsmen, they should be able to play two games a week. Yes, the FA/Premier League could do more to help English clubs in Europe but for now it is what it is.

They can’t be any more tired than the Chelsea fans left stranded at Liverpool parkway following the match. The club’s official travel partner Thomas Cook failed to get some fans back to the station in time to board the chartered train. This left circa 125 fans with no way home. Eventually (four hours later) a couple of coaches and a leaky double-decker arrived to take the unfortunate fans on a long journey back to London with most of them arriving just in time for breakfast.

To add insult to injury, they didn’t even order enough coaches so a further 30 fans remained in Liverpool. Finally, someone saw sense, put the poor souls in cabs and pointed them south. But hey, they’re only fans — who cares, eh? Certainly not the club who could have immediately sent a fleet of cabs to get the supporters home. How much would it have cost? Five thousand pounds? A mere drop in the ocean of cash swilling around the game.

Press stories of Conte’s imminent departure have stopped and we’re seeing a bit more of the passion that we witnessed on the touchline last season, but I still get the impression he is far from happy. The wide grin and jokey interviews are few and far between and he seems far more measured on camera. Will Emenalo’s departure have any bearing on how club operates? Everything remains shrouded in secrecy. Who picks the players we target in the transfer windows? The manager? Emenalo? Marina? Roman? Who knows? One thing is certain, there needs to be some significant activity in January.

The fate of David Luiz will be interesting. The fallout with the manager has been pretty public. Part of me wants them to make up and move on, but Conte struggles to pick a regular defence when he has multiple options — fewer options equals a settled back three.

A lack of activity will make many (including myself) believe that Conte will be off in the summer — something which would be very unpopular with the supporters. Hopefully neither party has made any premature decisions. We still have six months left of a season which was always going to be more challenging than the last – and if we can put a good run together we could maintain third and even challenge United for second. Catching City is something else entirely — should he do that, the club should sign him up for the next five years!

But even if he doesn’t, I think the club needs to recognise that Conte is as special as certain other managers once were and if they backed him he could demonstrate that. He worked wonders with one of the least talented Italian sides for generations. He left them and look where they are now. Come on Chelsea, back the man — a bit of faith in the manager is well overdue.


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