Antonio Conte’s position at the helm of defending Premier League champions has been a matter of much speculation over the course of the entire campaign.
After developing an infamously strained relationship with the Chelsea hierarchy over a dispute on transfer spending, the Italian has seemingly been treading on thin ice at The Bridge.
Everything from his demeanor to his dress suggests disinterest if not apathy towards his clubs fortunes for this season, as the side have slumped to 5th place and look unlikely to earn a place in next season’s Champions League.
It seems to be a matter of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’ for Conte, as the board will seek to decide whether or not to part ways with their manager now or wait until the end of the season, when he may agitate for a move himself.
As the end of the season draws near and his departure becomes more inevitable, speculation has understandably turned to who could replace the coach at Stamford Bridge.
One name that has appeared repeatedly is that of Italian coach Massimiliano Allegri, who replaced Conte at Juventus.
After yet another unsuccessful Champions League campaign, the belief that Allegri might need to start anew if he is to push his career forward, and the current climate of the Premier League will present a true challenge to test his managerial abilities.
While his tactical acumen and renowned attention to detail would certainly elevate the standard at the club, working under the freely fleeing pockets of the Agnelli family may make him unwilling to adapt to what his predecessor described as “austerity cuts” currently being undertaken at the Bridge.
Former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique has also been linked to the job, having left the Blaugrana in 2017 after winning two La Liga titles and a Champions League crown over his three-year tenure at the club.
While there is no faulting those excellent credentials, his record with Roma and Celta Vigo may be worrying signs when it comes to his ability to manage outside his comfort zone without the help of the massive institution and legacy of his former club behind him.
Maurizio Sarri’s links to Stamford Bridge may excite some fans, but they don’t take into account the nuances of his management style.
The former banker is known for a brand of attractive football that would certainly be able to lift fans off the seats at Stamford Bridge, but the time needed for him to complete his complete re-education of the Blues’ current players simply doesn’t fit the profile of manager the club are looking for.
Leonardo Jardim seems like a strong candidate to replace the Italian, given not only his recent successes at AS Monaco but also the manner in which he has achieved them.
The Principality club have adopted a business model not too dissimilar to that being trialled by Abramovic and former technical director Michael Emenalo in recent years, with recent boardroom-directed signings Ross Barkley and Emerson Palmieri clearly demonstrating that the club intends to sign and improve undervalued players as a manner of competing with the vast riches in Manchester.
Chelsea are seemingly no closer to deciding who their next manager should be, and the erratic and disparate list of candidates makes it appear that the boardroom remain unsure about which direction the club should head in.