Storm clouds at the Bridge

Are Chelsea’s golden years under threat?

In one of the longest protracted sackings in Premier League history, Antonio Conte has finally been axed by Chelsea. Napoli’s Maurizio Sarri is set to become the ninth permanent boss of the fifteen year Abramovich era.

However there are more than a few reasons for nerves at Chelsea. Swapping and changing managers is one thing, it’s a common thing in fact at The Bridge, but it’s the deep rooted uncertainty surrounding the club which will have fans worried.nnn.

Diplomatic relations

Late in May, it was revealed that Abramovich had withdrawn his UK visa application, news that is as complicated as it was surprising.

New government rules from 2015 regarding Visas, demand more clarity over sources of wealth from applicants. Coupled with deteriorating diplomatic relations between Britian and Russia, it appears the billionaire owner has cold feet over his business interests in London.

Actually it appears there is a lot more to this then there actually appears. Sorry.


The government will no doubt be encouraged by the proposed £1 billion investment by Chelsea to build a new 61,000 seater stadium in the capital. They should welcome the project. However the current Visa situation is a complication that should worry everyone.

The shrewd tycoon could well be playing chicken with the government over the cost of the stadium. He could also be genuinely perturbed by the turbulent market and value of the pound.

Such is the complication over this issue, it’s hard to gleen what is going on behind the scenes. All we know is that the stadium plans are currently shelved, hardly encouraging for Chelsea fans.

For a while now there have been more than just murmurs of uncertainty surrounding the ownership at Chelsea. However the recent economic and political concerns have cast more doubt on the future status of the Russian.

Back to the football

We’re used to sackings of decent men in the Premier League, but you have to feel for Conte. The likeable Italian’s record is exemplary, his success unquestionable.

His Chelsea side of 16-17 were incredible. Winning thirty games in the Premier League and reaching the cup final. His side played with swagger and devilish confidence, no doubt inspired by their flamboyant, energetic coach.

Even the blemish of a fifth placed finish last season is hardly a crime to condemn the former Juventus manager. Also the players must surely pick up some of the slack.

The top six of the Premier League are amoungst the cream of Europe. There was always going to be two decent teams left out, as there will be this season as well.

New manager, same problems

Sarri is due to be named Conte’s successor imminently, but the new Italian is going to have the same issues as the old Italian.

In all honesty, finishing 4th rather than 5th was unlikely to insulate the club against the predatory circling of Real Madrid.

The La Liga giants are widely rumoured to be keen on Courtois and Hazard. Their recent sale of Ronaldo is likely a sign that they ate clearing the decks there for a raid on their top targets. Los Blancos are known to get what they want, which doesn’t bode well for Chelsea.

Of course Chelsea will receive crazy money for both players if they do sell. However as Bale and Suarez proved, it’s hard to replace top class talent, even with a lavish outlay on players.

There is also a feeling of rushed, panicky moves behind the scenes at Chelsea. Conte was rumoured to have been on his way weeks ago, but stayed long enough to begin pre-season training.

This means that Sarri now has less than a month to prepare for his new job. For a first role outside of Italy, this is no time at all to prepare. Yes he will have a top class squad at his disposal but with the recent bad press surrounding Chelsea, he would have hoped for a better time to join the West London club.

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