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Maurizio Sarri, who is expected to be confirmed as Chelsea boss following the sacking of Antonio Conte, faces a series of challenging tasks to take on.
The Blues endured a troubled season under Conte, who has left under a cloud having led the club to the Premier League title just over a year ago.
His replacement has a tough job on his hands after inheriting a team which failed to secure a top-four finish and missed out on Champions League football. These are likely to be some of the new manager’s top priorities…
Conte was on-message and delivered during his first season with Chelsea. Then, from a position of strength, the Italian challenged Roman Abramovich’s autocratic regime. It was only going to end one way. For sustained success at Chelsea, it will require patience from both the head coach and the Chelsea hierarchy. Diplomacy will be necessary.
The whingeing of Conte will have alienated players, staff and board members. The absence of a technical director since Michael Emenalo’s November departure will not have helped. Conte’s replacement must have good relationships in both directions of Chelsea’s pyramid and a new technical director would be welcome. The players need to trust the new head coach.
Foster leadership and unity
The departures of assistant Steve Holland, to England, and long-serving captain John Terry, to Aston Villa, last summer created a void which has not been adequately filled. Gary Cahill has grown into the role of club captain, but Chelsea need more who lead by example in words and deed. There were too many lacklustre performances last season.
Retain Chelsea’s best players
This is largely a club issue, given Chelsea managers, or head coaches, have decreasing influence on transfer strategy. But it is clear Chelsea must make a swift decision on goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who has one year remaining on his contract and could be sold if he does not extend his deal, and Eden Hazard. Hazard is hesitating over an offer to renew his contract, which expires in 2020, and wants “good” players to come in. Young talent, like Ruben Loftus-Cheek, should also be incorporated into the first team.
Win, win again and win well
The Blues are serial winners. Anything less than trophies is a disappointment – and a sackable offence. Even claiming two pieces of silverware could not spare Conte. Abramovich has become accustomed to winning, and the Russian would settle for nothing less than a trophy and a Champions League return in 2018-19.