It looks increasingly inevitable that Antonio Conte becomes the third Chelsea manager to be fired by Roman Abramovich within a year of winning the Premier League title. The latest blow to Chelsea's season came during the week, as yet another loss to Arsene Wenger precipitated exit from the Carabao Cup.
After the game, Conte was nakedly hostile to the club's recruitment process, remarking that the club are responsible for "every single player" signed during the summer, and that presumably extends to the January signing Conte was far from flattering about:
When there is an injury to one of your best players it is not simple. Especially when on the bench the only substitute is Ross Barkley.
Relations behind the scenes appear to have broken down now, according to a report in The Times.
Chelsea's key transfer negotiator is Marina Granovskaia, and she is currently enduring a terrible relationship with Conte. The Italian blames her for missing out on Leonardo Bonucci and Fernando Llorente, as she is following orders from Roman Abramovich to drive a hard bargain.
Conte blames her and the club for lumbering him with Danny Drinkwater, Tiémoué Bakayoko, and Ross Barkley, and he may meet further frustration regarding the January pursuit of Edin Dzeko: personal terms with the Bosnian striker are the sticking point, with his insistence on a contract until 2021 in breach of Chelsea's policy at present is to offer players over 30 one-year deals.
So bad have relations become, the pair are communicating through Carlo Cudicini, once a Chelsea goalkeeper and now one of Conte's assistants (although you may remember him best for his role as the Republic of Ireland under-21s goalkeeping coach).
The report claims that Cudicini is virtually the only man at the club liked by both the Conte and Abramovich/Granovskaia camps.
The full story is here.