Chelsea order Diego Costa to hold his tongue in public after lashing out at Antonio Conte
Diego Costa has been warned not to lash out publicly at Antonio Conte again after becoming fed up with being shouted at by Chelsea’s head coach in the victory over Leicester City.
The striker made a request to be substituted and exchanged angry words with Conte from the pitch on Saturday in an incident that had echoes of his fallout with former manager Jose Mourinho.
It was assumed Costa’s insistence that he should come off was because he was walking a disciplinary tightrope, but it is also understood that he had become annoyed by Conte’s hands-on coaching style.
Conte micro-manages his players from the touchline, telling them where to stand and shouting at them if they do not carry out his orders. Costa had opened the scoring for Chelsea with his seventh goal of the season, but did not escape some verbal volleys from Conte and motioned to be taken off in the second half.
The 28-year-old is just one booking away from suspension, which is believed to be part of the reason for his request, but Costa was also responding to what he took as criticism from Conte.
Conte played down the incident after the game, insisting it was up to him who he substituted, but the pair exchanged words away from the cameras and some of the Italian’s staff also told Costa not to repeat his actions.
Costa was seen laughing and joking when the Chelsea players had changed and left the dressing room, suggesting the incident was quickly dealt with and that the Spain international did not hold a grudge.
But the incident was reminiscent of Costa’s on-field bust-up with Mourinho last November, when he took exception to the Portuguese shouting at him to get into the penalty area in a Champions League match against Maccabi Tel Aviv.
Costa was left out of Mourinho’s starting line-up for the next Premier League game against Tottenham Hotspur and reacted by tossing a bib at his manager.
Conte, whose voice was hoarse in the post-match press conference, explained his constant shouting at his players by saying: “I know that, in football when you are winning 2-0, in 10 or 15 minutes you can be losing. For this reason, I always stay [on edge] to maintain the right atmosphere on the pitch for my players.
“It’s very difficult to manage a result in England. Very difficult. Anything can happen right up to the end. For this reason, I pay great attention and want to impress this on my players.”
Captain John Terry faces a fight to win back his starting place in Conte’s team now that the Italian has switched to a back three.
Terry was left on the bench for the Leicester game, despite having recovered from an ankle injury and proved his fitness in training.
Conte rates Terry highly, but there are doubts over how the 35-year-old would cope with playing in a back three which means César Azpilicueta, David Luiz and Gary Cahill are likely to continue unless one of them suffers injury or suspension.