On May 19th, Chelsea will play Manchester United in the FA Cup final at Wembley. Regardless of the result on the day, many within the footballing world expect that hotly-anticipated encounter to be Antonio Conte’s last match as Chelsea manager.
The Italian’s future has been a hot topic throughout the campaign, with the former Juventus man clearly showing signs of unhappiness and discontent.
However, could Conte surprise his own supporters by unexpectedly staying on at Stamford Bridge next term?
#1 Champions League
Three games of the season remain and Chelsea are five points behind fourth-placed Tottenham and six points behind third-placed Liverpool, who they play at Stamford Bridge this Sunday. If the Blues can claim all three points against Jurgen Klopp’s side then it will surely make the last few matches nervous for those in north London and on Merseyside. And if Chelsea do pull off a remarkable fourth-placed finish then it will surely increase Conte’s chances of staying at the Bridge, rather than him leaving.
#2 Dressing room showing fight
At the start of April, the dark clouds were hovering over Stamford Bridge once again as Chelsea suffered a 3-1 home loss to Tottenham. With the race for the Champions League places looking like they were over, many were expecting Chelsea to implode and end the season in disappointing fashion. However, the dressing room has proven over these last few weeks that they are still fighting for their manager which can only be a positive thing going forward. It is clear that Conte still has the backing of his players, which could play a part in him being persuaded to stay once the season ends.
#3 FA Cup win
Winning the FA Cup final at Wembley could be the massive mood changer for Conte. It will be the final match of the domestic season and if Chelsea can beat Manchester United then it will only send positive vibes across the blue half of London. There is no doubt the players will show their affection towards their manager if they win and the supporters will urge Conte to stay on.
#4 Will the board listen?
Conte versus the board has arguably been the biggest reason why the Italian has gone from crazy child on the touchline to meditator. With the task of catching the Manchester clubs next season looking very tough, the board led by Roman Abramovich may decide to splash big in the summer. If they give Conte the money to spend then he might see a brighter picture which could result in him staying. Otherwise, he will be walking out of the door firmly giving the hand signs he believes the board deserves.
One thing that has not changed over the course of this campaign has been Conte’s relationship with the supporters. Despite the problems at the back, the Stamford Bridge faithful have remained loyal to their manager and he has continued to fight on for their cause. There have been many bad results and performances this term which could have seen the end of Conte but he opted to stay on. Perhaps, for the sake of the fans, Conte would be willing to stay on next season and try to bring more success to the club.