Chelsea have been linked with a swath of managers to follow Antonio Conte but at least two big names are now off the list. Is a Conte stay in the cards?
2018 has not been kind to Chelsea or Antonio Conte. Since the new year began, Chelsea have barely had mid table form and even that is a stretch.
Simple individual mistakes game after game and a slowness to adapt to the dire situation has put Conte on rocky ground.
There is a short list for what comes after Conte. But as usual, Chelsea are indecisive and it is costing them. At least two big names can now be crossed off the list with a third possibly added.
The more names that go out of reach and the more clubs that lock up a manager, the more likely it is that Conte stays at Chelsea.
First is Thomas Tuchel. Tuchel’s availability, low wages (compared to what Luis Enrique was asking for) and a focus on youth made him a big name on the list. But now all reports are stating that he has agreed to join Paris Saint Germain.
Next, the constant target of Diego Simeone has taken himself out of the running for any job. Simeone had not yet been linked to Chelsea but it was only a matter of time.
No other manager has been more strongly linked to the Blues over and over since Chelsea won the Champions League. Fans may not be overly worried about his decision but it is hard to deny that he would have been successful.
Less definite is Massimiliano Allegri. Juventus’ CEO has stated that Allegri will be at the club next season. That is not necessarily enough to remove him from the shortlist.
Unlike Tuchel, he is not strongly linked to another job. Unlike Simeone, Allegri has not personally stated anything other than he would like to manager abroad after Juventus. But the CEO’s statement does put Allegri’s availability into doubt.
So that is three big names potentially off of Chelsea’s list. But what of Antonio Conte himself? There is always the chance he says enough is enough and quits. But now he has less options than before.
Conte is, despite recent results, world class. Only a big club can hope to gain his services. But PSG is now off the table. A return to Juventus or Italy is and always will be unlikely. So where does that leave Conte?
Possibly Real Madrid or Bayern Munich but both have their own massive hiccups. Zinedine Zidane’s tenure is on rocky ground but another Champions League could save him.
Bayern Munich have lost Tuchel as an option and their next move is anyone’s guess. Jupp Heynckes could stay but it is unlikely. If they want a big name, only Antonio Conte looks as though he will be available. But it may not be the best fit for either man or club.
These moves by other clubs and managers make it more and more likely that Conte and Chelsea will have to live with each other. Chelsea do not seem to have the stomach to fire Conte without a clear successor lined up and those are going away quickly.
Conte is unlikely to quit unless another big job is available and locked up for him. That leaves only each other for Conte and Chelsea.
That would be an uneasy alliance but might be the only option that everyone finds themselves in when Summer arrives.
Conte is a great manager, but he and the club will need to find common ground if they have to settle for each other for one more year.