Thursday 22 February 2018 / 03:55 AM


Managers are a funny bunch, aren’t they?

They’ll say things in the press or make comments that they know no one else agrees with, and then expect people to take them seriously.

And sometimes they make comments that are so eyebrow-raising that you have to wonder whether even they believe them.

Antonio Conte is the latest manager to make such a comment and it’s well worthy of scrutiny.

Clearly the manager has been under some pressure this season, with the Blues not really kicking on from their Premier League triumph last year.

And when I say ‘not really kicking on’, I mean ‘going backwards’.

But according to Conte, he’s earned his place at Stamford Bridge. I’ll let the man explain to you why:

“Honestly, I think I earned my time here with the win of last season. If we think I click my fingers and we are ready to fight. It’s not simple. Last season happened. A miracle. It was a miracle, because we had the same players that the season before finished 10th.”

Now, on one level, what Conte says is true.

Yes, Chelsea did finish well down the table the season before Conte arrived.

Mourinho had become embroiled in some dispute with a physio, there was clearly a lot going on behind the scenes and eventually ‘The Special One’ was given his marching orders at Stamford Bridge for the second time in his career.

Guus Hiddink was parachuted in to finish things off, and he did his best with a fragmented, emotional and unhappy Chelsea team.

Conte came in and the rest is history – they won the league.

But was it a “miracle”?

Absolutely and unequivocally NOT.

We should not rewrite history, and especially not in the manner in which Conte is choosing to.

The Chelsea side he inherited may have finished tenth the previous season, but had cantered to the Premier League the season before that.

Clearly off-field factors had a significant impact on the Blues in the season before Conte arrived, but those off-field factors didn’t turn them into a bad side.

Eden Hazard was still one of the best midfielders in the world and Diego Costa one of the best strikers.

Thibault Courtois was still one of the best goalkeepers; whilst the miserly Chelsea defence still had the ability to be miserly.

There’s no doubt that Conte should be given credit for the impact he had in turning around Chelsea’s fortunes, but to suggest that he worked miracles would be disingenuous, and downright disrespectful to managers who genuinely have performed incredible feats and U-turns at various clubs.

If I were to be brutally honest – and I am being – Conte’s comments are an absolute embarrassment.

By all means stress that you need time. By all means make it clear that you’ve done a good job at the club.

But don’t overegg your achievements, because it just makes you come across deceitful, disingenuous and naïve that anyone would possibly believe you.

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Seb Greenwood

CBS’s longest-serving contributor, Englishman Seb is our leading football correspondent, pulling no punches with his opinions on the Premier League and the international scene.

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