Sunday 18 March 2018

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich 'holds emergency meeting' to discuss Antonio Conte start

Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich
Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich

Jack de Menezes

Roman Abramovich’s response to Chelsea’s 2-1 defeat by Liverpool last Friday was to hold an emergency meeting with the club’s directors until the early hours of Saturday morning, with manager Antonio Conte said to be deeply unhappy with the lack of his transfer targets that were signed in the summer.

According to The Express, Chelsea owner Abramovich was furious with his side’s defeat at Stamford Bridge last week and held a meeting to discuss the club’s start to the season.

After three consecutive victories over West Ham, Watford and Burnley left the Blues with nine out of nine points alongside Manchester City and Manchester United, the Blues have come unstuck in the form of a 2-2 draw with Swansea and last week’s defeat. To add to Conte’s concerns, he saw John Terry limp out of the draw in Wales with an ankle injury and miss the Liverpool encounter, although while the captain will not feature in the EFL Cup match with Leicester on Tuesday, he is expected to return for the weekend trip to Arsenal.

But the pressure already appears to be Conte to improve performances and address the concerns Chelsea have in defence. Abramovich sanctioned moves for N’Golo Kante, Michy Batshuayi, Marcos Alonso, Eduardo and David Luiz during the summer, but the club failed in their pursuits of Serie A defenders Kalidou Koulibaly and Alessio Romagnoli, much to Conte’s frustration.

That led to the deadline day signing of Luiz, just two years after he left the club to join Paris Saint-Germain, and Conte has already confirmed that the Brazil international was not on his wish list as he was not aware Luiz was available in the transfer market.

Chelsea also failed to sign both Alvaro Morata and Romelu Lukaku of Real Madrid and Everton respectively, while 2015 target John Stones completed his £50m move to Manchester City where he has already impressed under Pep Guardiola.

The report adds that Conte has informed the club’s board that he needs funds in January to strengthen the squad even though the transfer window closed just 20 days ago.

The outcome of Liverpool’s victory on Friday is that Conte will give a number of fringe players the chance to impress against reigning Premier League champions Leicester on Tuesday in their EFL Cup clash. Cesc Fabregas, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Victor Moses are all set to start while Batshuayi will lead the attack in place of Diego Costa.

“It has been a good response since Friday,” Conte said on Monday. “During training I’ve seen the right intensity, the right commitment from the players.

“The message I have given them is the same as that I gave after the game – we must pay attention in every moment. Details change results. We analysed the game together and we’ve seen the positive things and the bad things. It’s important to restart and find a good spirit.”

Independent News Service

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport