Chelsea Superstar reveals: “It was me who told Antonio Conte to give us 3 days off”

With Chelsea at their lowest ebb last week, captain Gary Cahill decided the time had come to speak to Antonio Conte about a break.

In previous years when Chelsea have struggled, the squad have held frank discussions at the training ground.

Humiliating 3-0 and 4-1 defeats by Bournemouth and Watford respectively seemed to warrant another inquest but Cahill thought a different approach was needed as he looked at his demoralised team-mates.

He told Standard Sport: “I mentioned the idea of taking more days off to the coach. I just felt that there were a lot of bad feelings around the place.

“It was important for everyone mentally to get away. Sometimes it’s unhealthy to be in the same environment all of the time, especially when there is a lot of negativity around for whatever reason.

“This was the first time I could remember this season that we had a free week in between games. I thought it was a great opportunity to mentally freshen our minds up and physically freshen the bodies up. Everyone knows we do a lot of physical training on top of the games we are playing.

“So to take ourselves away from the surroundings, for partners to be with their family and kids, gave us that distraction so that we could come back and refocus on the job.”

Conte granted the England international’s request extending the planned one-day break to three — although the Watford debacle remained firmly in his mind during the time away.

While Chelsea’s display in the 3-0 victory over West Brom on Monday was far from perfect, it was a noticeable improvement.

Cahill said: “Last week wasn’t a case of, ‘Let’s take three days off and have a jolly’. I was thinking about that Watford game on several occasions throughout.

“If we’d gone into train as normal the next day, we would probably have had one of those player meetings to talk things out.

“But I think after the break we didn’t need to speak about that game. To go over old wounds, especially when you’ve come back with the intent to think positively, is not going to help anyone.

“I think the time off helped us all 100 per cent. You could see in the 3-0 win over West Brom on Monday that it had benefited us.”

It is times like this when Cahill’s vast experience as a Chelsea player pays dividends. Since joining from Bolton six years ago, there have been numerous times when the club have seemingly been in trouble and yet Cahill has accumulated half-a-dozen winners’ medals over that period.

Liverpool and Tottenham have claimed one major trophy between them in that time (Liverpool’s League Cup triumph in 2012), are one point ahead and behind fourth-placed Chelsea respectively in the League. And yet the difference in scrutiny is not lost on the veteran defender.

He said: “I’m not knocking Liverpool and Spurs whatsoever because they have played some fantastic football and have some terrific players.

“But you put it into context — we are sandwiched in the middle of those two and yet everything seems rosy there and it’s all drama and a disaster here. It’s been that way a lot of the time since I have been at Chelsea and it does get tiring.

“In 2016 we finished 10th. Then the next year we dominated the League. Things like that stick in your memory when you have difficult times like this. When there has been a down at this club, we have bounced back in a fantastic manner. Going forward I see no issues.”

There is still the possibility of winning the FA Cup and Champions League just as he and Chelsea managed in 2012 but the 32-year-old is adamant the League will not be sacrificed.

“Finishing in the top four is a bare minimum for a club like Chelsea,” he said. “It is the least we would expect from this season.”

Should Chelsea succeed on one or more fronts, they may look back on Cahill’s plea to Conte as the turning point.

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