It was as performances can be from Chelsea as the reigning champions of the English Premier League suffered their second heavy defeat in a week against a lower opposition.
To the chagrin of Chelsea fans, ‘The Blues’ players seemed to have downed tools, in a manner reminiscent of the second spell of the Jose Mourinho days in charge of the club. Watford relished the chance of playing against Chelsea on monday night, at a time when the Chelsea board and manager Antonio Conte are having a not so secret ego war and at the end of a very one-sided game, Watford were deserved 4-1 winners.
The Blues had Tiemoue Bakayoko sent off inside half an hour before Troy Deeney scored a penalty in the closing stages of the first half, but Chelsea stayed in the contest and equalised through a magnificent Eden Hazard goal in the 82nd minute.
The visitors were not level for long, however, as Watford scored three times in seven minutes through Daryl Janmaat, Gerard Deulofeu and Roberto Pereyra to secure victory for new head coach Javi Gracia.
It’s a result that leaves Conte’s position as manager in a precarious position and already reports are coming in that Chelsea are actively in search of a new manager.
One name that has popped up is Napoli’s head coach Maurizio Sarri. Chelsea’s owner Roman Abramovich is said to be impressed by him, with Napoli proudly sitting on top of the Italian Seria A.
Napoli play a brand of heavy possession based attacking football, praised by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, who called Napoli one of the best teams in Europe after his City side faced the Italians in this season’s Champions League. This has attracted Chelsea’s board, as well as the reports that emanate from Italy about the conduct of Sarri as regards his relationship with club owners.
According to the Daily Mail ‘Sarri is on the club’s shortlist as it appeals to the Premier League club that he often refuses to demand new signings.
He instead insists it is his job to work with and improve the players at his disposal.’
This could be a commendable approach to his job at Napoli, but at a club with constantly has the highest of expectations results wise , it would be interesting to see whether such style would help Chelsea and indeed a coach like Sarri with rivals like Manchester City spending massive sums on the best legs in the world.
Sarri is said to have a relatively cheap release clause in his contract with Napoli, which would make Chelsea’s move for him easier.
Meanwhile ex Liverpool player and Football pundit Jamie Carragher has given his verdict on Conte’s future.
Carragher thinks there’s a chance Antonio Conte could leave Chelsea before they face West Brom next week Monday after their “shambles” of a performance against Watford.
When asked if Conte could leave before the West Brom game next Monday, Carragher said: “There’s a good chance he could go before then.
“Not just because of how Chelsea are playing of late but because of Chelsea’s history of changing managers when the club fear they are not going to make the Champions League.
“They did it with [Andre] Villas-Boas, [Roberto] Di Matteo, [Jose] Mourinho as well.”
“I think when you call it on with your owners and your board as he (Conte) has done, you’ve got to back it up with results.”
“Unfortunately, they’ve been found wanting. The players may have let him down and that may be his feeling but to lose to Bournemouth 3-0 and to go to Watford and lose 4-1, for Chelsea that’s not good.
“It was a shambles really. Watford, even 11 against 11, were by far the better team and should have been a goal or two up. Second half Chelsea had a bit of possession but never looked like scoring apart from a piece of brilliance from Eden Hazard.
“However, as soon as Watford stepped they just fell apart at the back and that is nothing that you associate with Conte teams. You have to look at again, as we saw with Mourinho, is there now a discord between the players and the manager?”