Antonio Conte and Jose Mourinho have more in common than they might like to admitby Andy Dillon / 03 November 2017, 16:42Tweet
PALPABLE DISCORD - words which sum up Chelsea’s Sunday showdown with Manchester united better than any others.
Kept apart they are as safe as houses but put together they are verbal nitro and glycerine and can explain many of the fascinating number of back stories simmering behind what on paper is a routine Premier League fixture.
Chelsea fans will know this short phrase only too well. ‘Palpable discord’; uttered by the club’s technical director Michael Emenalo in the immediate aftermath of Mourinho’s sacking by his bosses while tucking into his Christmas dinner at the training ground in December 2015.
It was used by Emenalo to explain the irrecoverable distance that had grown between the manager and his players as the team went into meltdown, when it should have been using the previous season’s title winning campaign as fuel to fire on to more success.
Hmmm. Winning the league and then slack performances, disharmony and disquiet in the ranks. Sounds familiar.
It’s what chelsea are experiencing ahead of Sunday’s big match and it’s just what Conte warned against back in July. That second season syndrome when teams find it hard to raise the adrenalin levels that got to them where they are in the first place.
The players are tired, Conte is unrelenting in his pursuit of more glory only it has to be in Europe now as well as at home defending the title.
He wants more glory but then so does his boss at Chelsea Roman Abramovich and we all know everything comes from the top in business.
So is it Conte at fault? The players? Or is it Abramovich and the return he demands for his investment in the squad and the infrastructure at his showpiece club?
The answer points to the Russian if you take Mourinho’s experience into consideration.
He steered his squad to title glory in 2014 but then found it hard to maintain the levels of steam required to push on.
By December he was gone. Months of failing Chelsea and abject performances. Ultimately the manager takes it out on his players and the big boss takes it out on the manager.
Big fish eats medium sized fish, who eats small fish. It’s the way of the world.
Conte is going through what Mourinho went through two years ago. So despite being sworn enemies maybe they have more in common than they would care to admit?
Neither man will admit that of course.
They have disliked each other for almost ten years, giong back to the days when both were coaches in Italy.
Mourinho was the all-conquering leader of Inter Milan en route to a domestic and European treble; Conte the up and coming coach and symbol of Inter’s big rivals Juventus.
Conte was at Atalanta at the time and their paths never really crossed - but they did become aware of each other through the media and there’s never been much warmth there.
Palpable discord in fact.
It would suit both men to sit down, share a cup of coffee and put personal differences and their approaches to football to one side and perhaps work out that maybe it is Chelsea that is the problem, not them.