Published: Wednesday, 01 November 2017

There is something very wrong at Chelsea again. Well, I say ‘again’, but there’s no need really is there? There’s been something very wrong at that club for the last decade.

That Chelsea dressing room dominates everything at the club. Time and again ‘it’ has seen off one coach after another. The personnel might change in there, but attitudes don’t. If they don’t like you - you’re out.

Somehow Chelsea fly in the face of the generally accepted formula that any club looking for success must have stability in the managers’ office. Arsenal have got that and yet stutter from an occasional FA Cup win to the next. On the other hand, Chelsea have won as many trophies as they’ve had coaches in the last decade! How? It defies logic.

What did I read after the CL defeat Tuesday? ‘Roma Ruins’ was the most popular headline. Conte told us there was ‘no fight’ in his players.  Chelsea are nine points behind City in the PL. This season has been littered with red cards and surprise defeats. All of a sudden Conte’s ‘unplayable’ 3-5-2 looks very suspect. Jose Mourinho must be laughing his United red socks off right now. So too AVB, and a whole lot more X-Chelsea coaches. Have the boys at The Bridge ‘downed tools’ again?

We hear stories about them not enjoying training anymore. That Conte is too hard on them. That there’s no recovery time between sessions games and sessions. That some have phoned Steve Holland, last season’s No. 2, to express their frustration. Chelsea deny this. ‘Ask Holland’ they say - he’ll deny this too. What’s the old phrase? Oh yes ‘well he would wouldn’t he?’

Look back through these blogs and you’ll find a piece I wrote when Conte took over. I warned then that the relief the guys felt about ‘outing’ Mourinho and getting Conte the job would be short lived. I said the that Conte would prove to be worse in his demands of players - that there would be no hiding place and certainly no rest. I said Conte was an obsessive - that he’d be up all hours and text training schedules while players slept, always wanting to keep the guys on their toes. I suggested they’d soon get fed up of his antics. Well?

That’s the problem when an owner gives into player-power. Do it once and there’s never going to be an end to it. I offer you Leicester as another example. One headline leapt out at me following Claude Puel’s appointment. The players were ‘surprised’ by it. I’ll bet they were! In fairness we all were, but it’s only in that dressing room that Puel’s tenure will he decided.

On that subject, the owners at Leicester said Puel’s vision for the club matched their own. That got me thinking. What vision would that be? They’ll never win the title again. They won’t finish in the top 6. They might finish top half and have the occasional decent cup run, but staying in the PL has to be the main ‘vision’ at the start of every season. So how did Craig Shakespeare’s ‘vision’ for the club differ to Puel’s, or the owners? What a load of nonsense.

Look, player-power isn’t a new phenomenon. Ask anybody that was in the Arsenal dressing room when a player poll was organised to see if the lads wanted Bruce Rioch out. We all know what the vote was.  Ask Roberto Mancini. City’s dressing room tossed off an FA Cup final to be sure they were rid of him.

It’s happened at many other clubs too, but I repeat, it’s a very dangerous path to embark on. Done once, players’ expectation is that they can force an owners hand every time they’re unhappy. At Chelsea they seem to continue to believe that. Does anybody really think Conte will survive very much longer? He certainly won’t be there to start another season.