Antonio Conte vs Pep Guardiola: Smile for the cameras please lads!by Andy Dillon / 29 September 2017, 08:57Tweet
THERE’S NO hiding place anymore.
Nowhere in the Premier League can be regarded as sanctuary for a manager.
Just today Pep Guardiola admits he fears the sack at Manchester City if he doesn’t win the title this season.
Peer way down below in the table and West Ham’s Slaven Bilic opens up about the constant speculation about his job.
Even in mid-table, the no-man’s land of obscurity, the pressure is a vice-like grip around the manager’s neck as he spends 24/7 desperately trying to finish at least one place above last season.
If he doesn’t then the fans are on his back, the owners read social media and before you know it another one bites the dust.
Chris Hughton at Brighton and Sean Dyche at Burnley may possibly be, for now, the only two coaches in the top division of English football, who can sleep soundly at night. It’s unlikely though.
Think on that when Chelsea play Manchester City tomorrow night and see if you can spot Guardiola or Antonio Conte smile once on TV while the game is going on.
Last season Guardiola and several coaching staff from both teams - not the players - were involved in a bust up in the tunnel at Stamford Bridge after Chelsea’s 2-1 victory.
Maybe it’s fatigue. For example, Conte has been moaning about only having one full day to prepare for this game having played in the Champions League in Madrid on Wednesday.
Tiredness can make you grouchy. My kids have shown that over the years. If we had a tunnel or a training ground at home it’s odds on there would have been a bust up at some point.
Right now Conte and Guardiola have no right being grumpy.
Guardiola is at the helm of a City team which has been dubbed the ‘Playstation X1’ for the breathtaking skills and eye-popping talent in his squad.
So attack-minded are they that City do not even really need a goalkeeper. Sixteen goals for and none against in more than a month of Premier League matches.
Yet Guardiola fears the bullet.
Conte’s position at Chelsea will never be stronger. A Premier League winner in his first season as manager and a 100 per cent record upon the club’s return to the Champions League; the first English club to win a European match at Atletico Madrid.
He has overcome the Diego Costa problem with the unruly star now firmly out of the way back in Spain and his replacement cannot stop scoring.
Conte is the hottest manager in the entire world of football at the moment. He’s embarrassed Guardiola with what he did dragging Chelsea up from 10th place in 2016 to finish top of the pile last season - an incredible achievement.
Yet will he enjoy the moment? Unlikely.
Conte will spout on that it is not about him it is about the team. But we all know that’s rubbish.
Of course he’s loving it. He’s loving the new two year contract having doubled his money to around £10 million a year too. Inside he’s bursting with self-satisfaction that he is only two seasons away from his next big contract either with Chelsea or probably elsewhere back in Italy or at Real Madrid or Barcelona - he can pick and choose where he works.
Tomorrow’s game is the first big showdown between the three clubs which are running away with things at the moment. It should be an evening to savour for everyone.
Hopefully I’ll be proved wrong but enjoying yourself appears to be a sackable offence in English football in a country which prides itself on its sense of humour.