Chelsea are more than 48 hours removed from their latest embarrassment, a 4-1 defeat to Watford on Monday, and Antonio Conte is still the club’s manager.
That might lead outsiders to believe that Conte has been given a stay of execution, as Chelsea’s temperamental and oft-meddlesome owner, Roman Abramovich, hasn’t yet fired another manager (less than nine months after lifting the Premier League trophy). Thus, Conte will be in charge of the Blues when they host West Bromwich Albion on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com)… unless, of course, Conte were to resign between now and then.
That, though, according to the Guardian, isn’t going to happen, as Conte “has no intention” of stepping aside. The Italian is desperate to save his job, which he was previously widely expected to walk away from in the summer, that he’s granted his players’ request for additional time off this week in an attempt to recover from an exhaustive period which saw Chelsea play nine games (across three domestic competitions) during the 31 days of January. The defeat to Watford was the first time since Nov. 18 that they had more than three days between games.
While reports have surfaced that Abramovich has reached out to former Barcelona manager Luis Enrique with an eye toward the Spaniard succeeded Conte at Stamford Bridge, maintaining order and continuity is said to be the top priority, as Chelsea continue to chase a top-four finish in the PL, the FA Cup (fifth round vs. Hull City) and a deep run in the Champions League (round of 16 vs. Barcelona).
“The manager has done an absolutely unbelievable job. This is the worst I’ve felt for quite a while. Performance-wise at Watford I didn’t recognize us or myself. It was abysmal. We just need to keep strong. I’ve been here before at this club: it’s about staying calm. But it hurts a lot when you come off after a performance like that.”