When Chelsea won the Premier League three seasons ago, many critics expected them to make a dynasty. According to a statement by Gary Neville, “The rest are miles away from this Chelsea team. They’re going to go again and again, and they’re the team to catch over the next couple of seasons”. The system and the team Jose Mourinho had in the 2014/2015 season had been predicted to make history in the upcoming seasons. However, it turned out to be the total opposite of what was expected.
Chelsea’s win in the Premier League was followed by a remarkable collapse no one had been able to predict. As soon as the first half of the season ended, it became apparent that the Premier League title winners have put in the worst ever defence in the history of the competition. What made it more terrible was Leicester’s strong start and eventual win in the next Premier League.
This resulted in the club dismissing Jose Mourinho before the season ended. In spite of all of this though, Chelsea winning the premier league next season still isn’t out of the question. If you just take a look at the odds on any betting site you’ll see, for example I took to Google and found that BetVictor’s premier league odds for Chelsea winning the title are at 10/3. No matter they perform, they’re always still in with a chance.
In the current Premier League era, a trend has emerged where sustainability is not measured by winning titles. The sacking of Jose Mourinho and appointment of Claudio Ranieri as the manager also did not last long for the Foxes.
Manchester United were the last team to successfully defend the Premier League title back in 2009, when Gary Neville featured 16 times for the Red Devils in the campaign. He stressed on the fact that retaining the Premier League title is harder than winning it initially. To emphasise on the retaining part, Gary Neville identified how their Manchester neighbours had failed to defend the title twice. According to his assessment, “They have got a mentality problem, there’s no doubt about that.”
Hence, this begs the question, would Conte’s Chelsea be following the same trend or will the team manage to prevail next season? According to Neville, “This team cannot sustain success, and I think that is a terrible thing to have levelled at you. When you win championships, you have got to be able to come back again with hunger, and they do not. They drop off it. They get to the top of the mountain and drop off it.”
Conte and the team had various advantages during last season’s title win. However, it can be said that his challenges could keep them away from the top position. The biggest advantage that Chelsea had in the last campaign was the lack of European football. This time round, they will have to contend with both the Champions League and subsequently play the Premier League, FA Cup and Capital One Cup.
If we compare, Conte’s men played around 44-48 games last season whereas Manchester United, who finished sixth on the league table, played 68 games. The Blues were free of such commitments and took advantage last season, similar to Leicester two years ago. However, this advantage is no more.
Several pundits believe that it is a huge advantage when a team has to participate in fewer matches as they have more time to train, prepare and recover. Such teams have an incredible advantage when they compete against others who are also playing in the Champions League or the Europa League.
John Terry has finally decided to hang up his boots in a tremendous fashion. He did not feature as much but played an important role in the title-winning season. On the contrary, the unsettled situation of Diego Costa is worrying as it could be a major loss for the team. There are reports that Conte does not see Costa in his plans for the upcoming season due to which the player is heavily linked with a move away from the club. Moreover, one of the biggest challenges that Conte is currently facing is the low morale of players. The star man of the team was out of form the last time Chelsea tried to defend its title. He took nine months to score his first goal of the season. This must not happen if Conte wishes to prevail.
The odds for Conte to prevail and for Chelsea to retain the title are 10/3.
Conte has his work cut out for him as he will have to motivate players over the summers. As this might include repetitive drills for increased efficiency, will it be enough to change players’ mentality and boost their morale?
Conte’s first season was successful; however, here is what he should do to prevail in the next season.
Over the past years, Chelsea have failed to defend their title. However, Conte seems to have a solution for this problem. Antonio won three consecutive titles in his time with Juventus. He tried to develop a sense of winning and continuous success that seems to have remained with Juventus to date. Therefore, it can be said that Conte will at least try to put in a great defence.
Conte has tried to add players such as N’Golo Kante to strengthen his team, who has proven his worth in back to back seasons where he won the league first with Leicester and now Chelsea.
However, this is not it. There seem to be many challenges up ahead – for instance, the two Manchester Clubs; United and City will be spending anywhere near £300m to £400m to strengthen their respective teams for the upcoming season. Both clubs are under immense pressure to play well and win in the next season.
Apart from this, Tottenham Hotspur’s young team and the manager are also desperate for a win. The team ended the season as runners-up at 86 points, becoming the only team who challenged Chelsea for the title. With Spurs and European competition, a title retention will not be a piece of cake for the Blues.
Conte knows the responsibility he has going into the next season. However, Chelsea seem to have the right man for the job. Many critics doubted Conte’s ability to achieve success after transitioning from Serie A, but winning the title in his first attempt was quite an achievement. However, in this challenging era of English football, defending and retaining the Premier League title can guarantee greater success.
Another advantage that Chelsea had last season was fewer injury woes. With less football throughout the season, players had the chance to stay out of the treatment room and recover well. With midweek football coming in, it would be tough considering the recent news that the manager of the Blues may sell a couple of major players such as Fabregas, as he will have to bring in quality players to fill in the vacant positions. Squad rotation is crucial when you play more games. Conte’s 3-4-3 system has proved to be solid as they went on a remarkable 13-game winning streak.
It can be said Conte must boost the morale of existing players and bring in enough quality players to add depth to his team if he is to sustain into the next season.